Plague Confirmed in Prairie Dogs at Numerous Commerce City Sites
Tri-County Health Department is working with numerous sites in Commerce City regarding plague-infested fleas affecting the prairie dog colonies in the region. Several areas have been closed voluntarily, signs have been posted, and the prairie dogs’ holes are being treated with insecticide to kill any fleas that could transmit the disease to prairie dogs, humans, and pets. These areas are affected until further notice:
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is temporarily closed to public visitation as staff continue to assess the scope of impacted areas and implement the refuge’s prairie dog management plan. Additional information will be posted on the refuge’s website as it becomes available: www.fws.gov/refuge/rocky_mountain_arsenal.
In Commerce City, the Prairie Gateway Open Space is closed along with the fields located at the corner of E. 56 Ave. and Quebec St., and E. 56th Ave. and Valentia Street. Updates are available at Commerce City: c3gov.com.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has restricted cars to asphalt parking areas and has cancelled their Saturday evening fireworks display. The health department feels that taking these precautions will greatly minimize the risk of exposure to patrons, players and employees visiting this weekend and help ensure a safe experience for all attendees. Updates are available at www.dickssportinggoodspark.com
“Plague in prairie dog colonies is common in Colorado and can be managed safely with insecticide to kill the fleas that spread the disease,” states John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “Our partners have voluntarily closed these locations to prevent any humans or pets from wandering into the affected areas.”
There are no known human cases at this time, but people should be aware of the common symptoms of plague – fever, swollen and tender lymph nodes, chills, and extreme exhaustion – and contact their health care provider if they think they were exposed. Although plague can cause serious illness in humans, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics, especially when diagnosed early. Dogs that are exposed to the plague do not usually get sick, but can transport the fleas.
Tri-County Health Department will continue to monitor these locations and other prairie dog colonies in the region. Check individual websites for updated information, and visit www.tchd.org/271/Animal-Related-Zoonotic-Diseases for more information about plague.