Plague Warning In Arizona

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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) There’s a new warning if you’re headed to Flagstaff.

The Coconino County Health Department warns visitors to beware after fleas tested positive for the bubonic plague.

Flyers have been posted just outside a popular hiking area in Flagstaff, just behind the Little America Hotel off I-40.

You can still come and out and enjoy it. There are just some things you should know before you do. Signs have been posted and the immediate area has been treated after fleas collected from the Flagstaff Urban Trail tested positive for the plague for the first time in more than a year.

“The insecticidal dust that we apply doesn’t last forever so it certainly could come back,” said Randy Phillips, Division Manager for the Coconino Public Health Services District.

The fleas that tested positive for the plague were collected from certain prairie dog burrows after a jogger alerted the county that prairie dogs were disappearing, which tends to be the indicator that the plague is at play. This was confirmed by scientists at Northern Arizona University’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, who conducted the testing.

“I think our biggest concern right now is just monitoring the other prairie dog colonies in the area to make sure that it doesn’t spread over into their areas,” said Phillips.

The plague can be transmitted to people and animals through an infected flea bite or by coming in direct contact with an infected animal.

Symptoms typically appear within two to six days and include fever, chills, headache, weakness, muscle pain and swollen lymph glands.

“If you’re not treated in time, the plague could kill you? asked Preston Phillips.

“That’s true,” Randy Phillips responded.

Now,  officials are reminding visitors to avoid rodent burrows, wear insect repellent and keep dogs on a leash to limit possible exposure. Warnings signs will remain posted around the area for the foreseeable future while Coconino County health officials closely monitor the situation.

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