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A Treasure Valley Ground Squirrel Tests Positive for Plague

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Ground squirrels are also known as "whistle pigs."
  • Ground squirrels are also known as "whistle pigs."
While investigating dead ground squirrels south of Boise near Gowen Field, Idaho public health officials uncovered one of the rodents that tested positive for plague.

In a news release issued May 22, officials from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and Central District Health Department advised the public to take proper precautions outdoors. Those precautions include cleaning areas near the home where rodents might live; keeping food away from places where wild animals can access it; and seeking appropriate health care should humans or their pets suffer from sudden and severe fever.

Pets—especially in the desert south of Boise—are of particular concern.

"Dogs and cats can be infected with plague through hunting rodents, playing with or consuming their carcasses, or by exposure to their fleas,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said in the release.

Symptoms include sudden fever, headaches and weakness, as well as the painful swelling of lymph nodes in the groin, armpit or neck. Should symptoms arise, immediate medical attention can greatly reduce the disease's mortality rate.

Between 2005 and 2010, USDA Wildlife Services tested carnivores for plague antibodies, with 18 animals testing positive. Five human cases of plague have been reported in Idaho since 1940.

Read the release here:
  Ground_Squirrel_Positive_for_Plague.pdf 
- The area where plague-infected ground squirrels are thought to roam. -  - IDHW/IDFG/CDHD
  • IDHW/IDFG/CDHD
  • The area where plague-infected ground squirrels are thought to roam.