Jefferson County Public Health has confirmed the presence of plague in one of the prairie dog colonies located in an unpaved, overflow parking lot at Bear Creek Lake Park, 15600 W. Morrison Road. The infrequently used lot has been closed for the past week as a precautionary measure while testing was underway, and crews have dusted the prairie dog holes to kill the fleas that carry and transmit the plague. Park users are reminded to follow the directions and cautions provided on signs closing the parking area for their own safety and to keep dogs on leash and away from areas marked with signs.
Plague is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium named Yersinia Pestis. Humans can be infected with plague through flea bites or other contact with an infected animal, and immediate medical attention is required for the proper treatment of the disease through antibiotics. Symptoms may include the sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea, extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure. People and pets should avoid all contact with live, sick or dead wild rodents.