Plague Found In Fleas Near Popular Hiking Spot In N. Arizona

Published: Friday, April 3, 2015 - 1:25pm

Coconino County Public Health Officials confirmed fleas collected near a popular hiking area tested positive for plague. This is the first positive test in the county this year.

Picture Canyon, northeast of Flagstaff, is a favorite destination for hikers and their pets. So when Coconino County Public Health Services staff found a deceased prairie dog in the area, they collected fleas from nearby borrows for testing. The test came back positive for plague.

Dr. Marie Peoples with Coconino County said there’s no reason to sound the alarms.  

"Because it's endemic and we know we need to monitor for this every year," Peoples said. "If we start seeing prairie dog burrows that look vacated or if the colonies had a huge die off then that’s certainly start raising our suspicions. We get out there and start trying to capture some fleas and testing the dead prairie dogs, that sort of thing. All in a day’s work."

Peoples said surrounding burrows are being treated and teams are continuing to test fleas for the disease. 

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