FLAGSTAFF – Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) officials confirmed that fleas collected in the Doney Park area, northeast of Flagstaff, have tested positive for plague (Yersinia pestis). Last week fleas collected in the Red Lake area, approximately five miles northeast of Williams, tested positive for plague. The tests were conducted by the Center for Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University.
CCPHSD is notifying area residents and the burrows, which are located on private property, will be treated. The area will be closely monitored to determine if further action is required.
Because the disease is endemic in Coconino County, there are likely additional locations with infected fleas. CCPHSD Environmental Health staff will continue to collect and test flea samples from locations throughout the County.
CCPHSD is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals. The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal. To limit possible exposure, people are encouraged to avoid rodent burrows and keep dogs on a leash as required by Arizona State law.
An abundance of active prairie dogs doesn’t indicate disease is present. However, a sudden die-off of prairie dogs and rodents, may be an indicator of plague. Persons noticing a sudden die-off of rodents or rabbits are urged to contact CCPHSD Environmental Services at 928-679-8750.