quote: Health officials trying to stop plague from gaining ground
By Bill McKeown/The Gazette
Health officials Wednesday worked to prevent the spread of bubonic plague in southeast Colorado Springs as they awaited tests to determine whether the disease killed a 28-year-old man.
The confirmation Tuesday that prairie dogs in and around the Colorado Centre subdivision were infected with plague spurred more than a hundred calls to the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment from worried residents and from media nationwide. ... Officials have taped off a vacant field near the subdivision southeast of the Colorado Springs Airport and are spraying insecticide down burrows to kill fleas living on prairie dogs. The plague is transmitted through the fleas. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with sick or dead animals. Humans and cats are susceptible. Dogs cannot catch it but can carry the infected fleas. Officials also have posted signs and handed out fliers to residents of the 1,000-home subdivision warning them to keep their pets inside or on a leash and prevent their children from playing near the field. ... Officials said the plague has killed hundreds of prairie dogs in the field during the past week. Whether it killed the 28-year-old man, who lived and biked in the area, won't be known until tissue samples are analyzed. Those tests could have been completed as soon as late Wednesday or may take up to two weeks, said Dr. Tisha Dowe, director of the Health Department. Dowe said the man, whose identity has not been released, was embalmed, a process that could slow tests to determine the presence of plague. El Paso County's coroner, Dr. David Bowerman, said Tuesday he didn't think the man had plague. Dowe said Bowerman suspected the man died of a severe case of streptococcus, a bacterial infection. However, Dowe said plague also can cause the same infection if left untreated. Health officials said about 20 people are being treated with antibiotics as a preventive measure, including friends and relatives who came in contact with the man who died Monday and residents of Colorado Centre who may have come into contact with animals carrying plague-infected fleas. Four cases of plague in humans have been confirmed in El Paso County since the late 1800s, with two of the victims dying. The most recent death occurred in 1984, when a 14-month-old child, a doctor's daughter, died after apparently coming in contact with infected squirrels at the Air Force Academy. ... Two newer residents of the neighborhood were taking the plague outbreak in stride -- sort of. "It's not cool that all this is happening, but I'm not too worried," said Pat Sweeney. His wife was a little less sanguine: "Tornadoes, hail, plague -- why did we move here?" said Deb Sweeney.
Somehow, someway, this has to be Focus on the Family's fault.
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV
Several people died from the bubonic plague in Norfolk and Suffolk in the 20th century. (The last recorded outbreak in Britain was in Norfolk, I think). But then those places had probably never left the Dark Ages.
Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000
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The Red and the Green Stamps
quote:"Tornadoes, hail, plague -- why did we move here?" said Deb Sweeney.
I think they got the quote wrong..... it should have read, "Tornadoes, plague -- Hell! Why did we move here?"......
At historical monuments and scenic overlooks throughout the Southwest there are signs warning visitors not to feed the cute little chipmunks and squirrels as they may carry plague. Although no one seems to take the warnings very seriously cases of plague in humans are rare--I think the most recent fatality in New Mexico was about 7 years ago and that victim was already dying by the time he went to the hospital.
Felines are highly susceptible to plague. Housecats are frequent victims and a mountain lion was found dead of it near Albuquerque in 1999.
This is called "sylvatic plague. " Same disease as the "Black Plague," just refers to the form that's endemic in wild animals in the Western US. Prarie dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels and the like are the most commonly affected. A nice overview of plague here. Posts: 4255 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 2000
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"and the dogs, they eat the cats and the cats, they eat the rats and the world, it keeps on turning; but the sun, it keeps on burning..."
I actually knew someone whose cousin died from the plague, in New Mexico in the 1980's. That's when the "New Mexico-Land Of The Plague, Home Of The Flea" bumperstickers became popular. (And where I stole it from, despite living far away from New Mexico, for the FROM in my profile.) It's ANOTHER reason to have only indoor cats!
quote:Originally posted by Kathy B: A nice overview of plague here.
Only on the internet does the phrase "nice overview of plague here" exist.
Are they as petrified about it out there yet as when Lyme disease scares were big or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever during the 80's? In NJ and some of NY, people are getting antsy about the West Nile Virus.
quote:Are they as petrified about it out there yet as when Lyme disease scares were big or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever during the 80's?
I don't think people in the West get petrified about plague. Unless you are in an area that is being actively treated with insecticide and antibiotics, you don't pay that much attention. If you grow up hanging out in the boondocks near the Navajo reservation you are brainwashed into never going near any animal that will let you approach. Plague is just one of the nasties that those "tame" animals could be carrying. There's also rabies, tularemia, and probably other bad things. I was taught to take rubber gloves when I went hunting in case I shot a rabbit, in case of tularemia.
Of course, there's all those ignoramuses who move to the West without bothering to find out what's out there that can get them into trouble. Like the fellow who moved into a house on the border of the national park and then was surprised when the coyotes got his free-roaming cat.
Yes, out here it is not wise to let your pet cat have it's freedom. If plague isn't a threat hungry coyotes and cougars are.
That said, we don't worry much about plague here. A few years ago there was a big stir when some people on the Navajo Reservation died mysteriously of a flu-like illness; USA Today labeled it "Navajo Flu" in its headlines. A California school group canceled its tour of the Navajo nation but it was soon discovered that the disease--Hantavirus--was spread by those adorable big eared deer mice which live all over the U.S.
OK tourists, do you want to know what you really need to worry about out here? Forget mice, prairie dogs and cougars and watch out for drunk drivers. Stay off the roads between 12:00 AM and 11:59 PM weekdays and also Saturdays and Sundays; stay home all working days of the year as well as holidays; also avoid walking on the sidewalk as much as is humanly possible.