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Disease-infected prairie dogs have shut down parts of a Denver suburb



Parts of the National Wildlife Refuge at Rocky Mountain Arsenal closed at the end of July as a precautionary measure following the discovery of the disease, the US Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Unaffected Protected Areas reopened on Saturday, but other locations in Commerce City, a suburb north of Denver, remain closed until Labor Day weekend, the Tri-County Health Department said.

"The prairie dog colonies are being monitored and the caves are being treated with insecticides, but there is still evidence of fleas in the walking and camping areas that could endanger humans and pets, leaving these areas closed," said John M. Douglas, Jr., the executive director of the Tri-County Health Department.

No human infections were reported, he said.

  Why is the bubonic plague still a matter?

Despite its name and fateful history in the Middle Ages, the plague, at least in the United States, is rare and generally treatable.

The plague is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and is fairly common in the rural western United States, including Colorado, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, an average of seven cases of human pneumonia have been reported each year in recent decades.

In general, small mammals and rodents carrying infected fleas carry the disease, which can spread through flea bites or contact with pets or humans with an infected mammal.

More than 80% of US cases were bumps. Untreated bubonic plague can turn into a more severe lung infection that causes rapid pneumonia after bacteria spread to the lungs.


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