Plague in Ground Squirrels
Idaho officials have discovered 24 die-off sites across the state. The area of infected ground squirrels extends south to the Snake River and east over Interstate 84. While the plague has not yet reached Mountain Home, it nearly reaches Kuna, Idaho, to the west. Epidemiologist Sarah Correll of the Central District Health Department says the plague has been found in ground squirrels southeast of Boise in past years. But this time, the disease is spreading rapidly.
Symptoms of plague
Symptoms of plague in ground squirrels are similar to those of the human disease leptospirosis. These squirrels may be infected by fleas that transmit the plague to humans. Exposure to infected rodent fleas can cause plague in humans through contact with infected animals, inhalation of infectious air-borne droplets, and ingestion of infected tissues. Although plague is relatively rare in humans, some household pets are at risk for this disease. Pet owners living near populations of wild animals should consult with their veterinarians to find a flea control method that will prevent the spread of plague to humans.
The disease is rarely found in the US and is transmitted primarily through flea bites. Approximately four cases of plague are reported in Los Angeles County each year. Unlike human plague, this outbreak is caused by a flea-borne disease. Infected rodents often bring fleas into homes, where humans may become infected through contact with infected fleas. Symptoms of plague in ground squirrels vary from animal to animal, but most are mild and non-descript.
Idaho health officials have reported cases of plague in ground squirrels south of the city of Boise. Because humans can be infected through flea bites and contact with infected animals, it’s best to avoid this area until laboratory tests show a clearer picture of the disease. Infected ground squirrels were found dead in the southeast Boise area during the month of May. The rash of dead ground squirrels has prompted public health officials to issue a public health advisory for the area.
The disease occurs naturally throughout the Western United States, especially in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The bacteria that causes plague starts a cycle of transmission by fleas. Infected ground squirrels die due to the plague disease, but fleas will remain and find a new host. This process continues until the disease has spread to other animals. In New Mexico, plague is spread by fleas that leave the dead animal and look for a new host.
The first question to ask when dealing with flea infestation is “how long can a ground squirrel live with infested fleas?” The answer to this question will vary depending on the species of rodents infected with the fleas. However, the answer is usually around five years. In fact, fleas infected with plague are very contagious. They can live for as long as seven months.
The plague can be treated with antibiotics, but early treatment is key for full recovery. The first symptoms of plague infection include a sudden onset of fever, chills, and weakness, and swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes. When you see these symptoms, get help immediately. The plague can also infect other animals. If you find the fleas in your ground squirrel, you may have a ground squirrel infestation.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, a ground squirrel’s body tested positive for the plague. The disease is not yet widely spread, but residents in the infected region are advised to be especially cautious. The disease is spread via flea bites, so pets and people with them should avoid any area that may be contaminated. The last confirmed human cases of plague were in 1991 and 1992.
The symptoms of plague infection in humans include a high fever, chills, and headache. People who have pets should avoid pets that may be infected, and if possible, try to limit their contact with infected animals. Veterinary staff can recommend a suitable flea control product for the pets. Other prevention measures include rodent-proofing feed containers for pets and livestock. Also, avoiding camping in rodent burrows or feeding wild chipmunks should be considered. However, it’s best not to feed dead rodents or pets.
What is the maximum lifespan of a ground squirrel?
A ground squirrel can live up to 15 years in the wild.
How long can a ground squirrel live with the plague?
A ground squirrel can live up to 2-3 weeks with the plague.
How long does it take for the plague to kill a ground squirrel?
The plague can kill a ground squirrel within 2-3 days.
What are the symptoms of the plague in ground squirrels?
Symptoms of the plague in ground squirrels include fever lethargy and loss of appetite.
How does the plague kill ground squirrels?
The plague kills ground squirrels by causing an infection in their lungs which leads to pneumonia.
How is the plague spread among ground squirrels?
The plague is spread among ground squirrels through fleas.
How can the plague be prevented in ground squirrels?
The plague can be prevented in ground squirrels through vaccination.
What is the treatment for the plague in ground squirrels?
There is no specific treatment for the plague in ground squirrels.
How can the plague be controlled in ground squirrel populations?
The plague can be controlled in ground squirrel populations through culling and vaccination.
Is the plague a danger to humans?
The plague is a danger to humans if they come in contact with infected animals or fleas.
What was the last outbreak of the plague in the United States?
The last outbreak of the plague in the United States occurred in 1924 in Los Angeles.
How many people died from the plague in the United States?
Over 100 people died from the plague in the United States during the last outbreak.
Is the plague still a danger to humans?
The plague is still a danger to humans as it continues to occur in animal populations.
What can be done to prevent the plague in humans?
To prevent the plague in humans it is important to avoid contact with infected animals or their fleas.
What are the symptoms of the plague in humans?
Symptoms of the plague in humans include fever chills headache and swollen lymph nodes.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.