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#6579 - 05/06/04 03:56 AM TAHC News Release
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Coop Keeper

Registered: 12/05/03
Posts: 469
Loc: Arizona
From:  Carla Everett
Date:  Wed May 5, 2004  12:07 pm
Subject:  Health Department Release Regarding Plague in West Texas, Panhandle

Good afternoon.
I am forwarding the following information from the Texas Department of Health, so that you will have accurate information regarding the confirmation of plague in several rodents in Texas.

Carla Everett,
TAHC Public Information
Texas Department of Health


May 5, 2004

Plague Identified in Rodents in West Texas, Panhandle

The Texas Department of Health (TDH) confirmed today that Ysernia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, has been detected in wood rats found dead in a rural location near the Midland-Glasscock counties border in West Texas and in fleas from wild prairie dogs in Dallam County in the Texas Panhandle.

TDH zoonosis control officials said it is not unusual to have plague in wild rodents in the western United States, including the western part of Texas.

"Plague occasionally cycles through the wild rodent population, sometimes causing large die-offs of rats, prairie dogs and other rodents," said Tom Sidwa, Austin, acting director of TDH's zoonosis control program.

Plague is usually spread by fleas that have bitten an infected rodent. The illness can be transmitted to dogs, cats and humans. Plague
in humans can be effectively treated with antibiotics if detected early, Sidwa said. Infection also can occur by breathing in respiratory droplets from a live animal that has the pneumonic form of the illness.

The last recorded human case of plague in Texas was in 1993 in a Kent County resident. An average of 13 human cases a year occur in the United States.

TDH is issuing a plague advisory to veterinarians and physicians in the West Texas, Panhandle and South Plains areas of the state and reminding the public to take routine precautions to reduce the chances of being
bitten by an infected flea. The public is asked to report large die-offs of rodents to public health officials.

Personal precautions include: removing food and shelter sources for rodents around homes, work sites and recreational areas; using safe
insecticides to kill fleas around property; applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin and clothing when in flea-inhabited areas, especially when camping or in other rodent-inhabited areas; and treating
pets with long-acting flea control products.

TDH also advises wearing gloves if it's necessary to handle an animal that could have plague. Because some rodents also carry hantavirus, rodent nests in closed-in areas should be aired out before removal, and any
rodent nests and droppings should be wetted-down with a 10 percent bleach-90 percent water solution before removing.

#6580 - 05/07/04 07:24 AM Re: TAHC News Release

And to think I once took trips to South Dakota and Wyoming to shoot those Prairie Dogs, must have been the ones that got away!

Those were the days... hot sun, 30mph cross winds, shoot till the gun barrel got hot, switch guns, and shoot some more. 200, 300, 400 yard shots with a tack driver 22-250 or 25-06... hundreds of pounds of ammunition - one year the ammo we used weighed more than all the other gear and passengers combined.

Now the animal rights folks can deal with the mess they created. I got my own range and plenty of wild dogs to pick off.


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