As of Friday, laboratory tests indicate that an Elmore County cat died from plague, and initial tests on a second cat have come back as positive. Additional testing is being done. Both cats had contact with ground squirrels before becoming ill. Family members and other household pets are being monitored to ensure the cat did not spread the infection, according to the Central District Health Department.


Public health officials are asking area residents and public to take precautions if they live or recreate in any area with known ground squirrels, even if they are outside the known area of impact.

Ground squirrels typically hibernate in early July, at which time the threat of plague will significantly decrease. It is important to note that tree squirrels or fox squirrels, which often live in residential areas, are not of concern.

Plague occurs naturally in the western United States. It is transmitted by fleas and cycles among wild rodents. Plague can also infect humans and their pets and can be a life-threatening illness.

Symptoms in cats and dogs include fever, tiredness and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw.

If you or your pet develop symptoms of plague, seek medical attention immediately.