- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A Boise resident whose dog is likely infected with plague will start an antibiotic treatment as a precaution, and other humans who had contact with the dog are being monitored, health officials say.

The Central District Health Department announced Thursday that additional tests are being done on the dog to confirm the initial diagnosis and will take about a week. The dog is also being treated with antibiotics and is expected to be OK.

Officials announced last month that ground squirrels south of Boise tested positive for plague, and advised humans and pets to avoid the area or take precautions.

“The dog was in the infected area,” said Sarah Correll, the district’s epidemiologist. “It likely did have contact with ground squirrels, and she (the owner) took the dog in as soon as it started showing symptoms.”

Officials declined to release the name of the owner or the dog. Correll said it wasn’t clear whether the owner knew about plague in the area.

Correll said plague symptoms typically show up within seven days after infection. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache and weakness. Most cases also include painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, armpit and neck areas.

The disease can be spread by flea bites or by direct contact with infected animals. The last two cases reported in Idaho, officials said, occurred in 1991 and 1992. Both patients fully recovered.

Correll said the owner took her dog to the veterinarian near the end of last month, and the veterinarian was aware of the possibility of plague and took appropriate precautions.

A map of the infected area is a circle shape extending about 45 miles south from Boise to the Snake River. The boundary also extends over Interstate 84 but doesn’t reach Mountain Home. The boundary nearly reaches Kuna in the west.

Christine Myron, spokeswoman for the health district, said mailers have been sent to 3,000 residents who live within or near the area. The Central District Health Department has also created an interactive map on its website that can be used by residents to determine if they are in or out of the infected area.

Idaho Fish and Game officials said the species of ground squirrel in the area is called the Piute and is found across much of southern Idaho.

Biologists said the ground squirrels, which live in colonies that can be large with interconnected burrows, will become dormant by middle or late June and retreat to their burrows, not to emerge again until February.

Until the ground squirrels start hibernating, health officials advise avoiding the area or, if entering, using strong insect repellent and wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Pets should be kept on leashes and products that repel fleas should be worn or applied, officials said.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide