Fleas Carrying Plague Have Been Found in Arizona

Health officials in the Navajo and Coconino counties have confirmed that fleas have tested positive for the Yersinia pestis bacteria, the biological agent which causes three forms of the plague; bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic.

How You Can Contract the Plague

Three ways of becoming infected by the bacteria are:

  • An infected flea bites you. Fleas carrying the Yersinia pestis bacteria will bite and infect rabbits and rodents. If another flea bites the same animal, the bacteria can be spread. The infected fleas will also jump on to your pets, and although they prefer to bite rodents, they will still bite other animals and humans if given the opportunity.
  • You come in contact with an infected animal. If you come in contact with an animal’s tissue or bodily fluids, whether dead or alive, you can become infected.
  • You come in contact with a human that has the pneumonic This form of plague can be spread from person to person by infectious droplets such as sneezing or coughing.

With one to seventeen reported plague cases a year since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all ages seem to be at risk, primarily in the rural West. If left untreated, the plague can kill you 30% to 60% of the time. Luckily, sanitation and pest control have become much better as well as the antibiotics that are now used to treat plague.

Early Detection of Plague is Important

Depending on how a person becomes exposed to the plague bacteria, it can take on different clinical forms such as:

  • Bubonic plague: symptoms include chills, headaches, fever, weakness, buboes (tender, painful lymph nodes). This form will usually result from being bitten by an infected flea.
  • Septicemic plague: symptoms include chills, fever, headaches, weakness, shock, abdominal pain, and possible bleeding in to the skin and other organs. Tissues and skin may turn black and die especially on the nose, fingers, and toes. This form will result from being bitten by an infected flea or handling an infected animal.
  • Pneumonic plague: symptoms include headaches, weakness, fever, and a rapidly developing pneumonia that causes shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, and sometimes watery or bloody mucous. Pneumonic is the most serious of the plagues and can be spread from person to person by infectious droplets.

Plague Prevention

Plague is a serious disease, so you want to try and prevent it as best as possible. Some ways you can do that include:

  • Reduce rodent activity. Make sure your home, work place, and recreational areas are clear of any brush, cluttered firewood, excessive litter, rock piles, and animal food. Have your home inspected by a professional like Critter Control to make sure your home and surrounding buildings are rodent-proof.
  • Wear gloves. To help prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria, wear protection when handling or skinning possibly infected animals.
  • Use repellent. If you could become exposed to rodent fleas from outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or working outdoors, try using a product that contains DEET which can be applied to the skin as well as your clothing. You can also try using an insect repellent product that contains permethrin on your clothing as well.
  • Protect your pets. Apply flea medicine regularly to help keep fleas off of your pets. Do not allow animals that may roam free in possibly infected areas to sleep on your bed.

Let Us Help Protect Your Family

The best thing you can do to help keep your family stay safe is early prevention. Critter Control can perform a free inspection to make sure you are not susceptible to any outside rodents getting in to your home that could be infected with plague-carrying fleas. Call us at 305-258-3587 or contact us on the web to perform a thorough walk through of your attic, crawlspace, or basement, eaves, pantry, walls, and all other surrounding areas. Once we identify any possible problems, we will seal up any potential entry points to make sure no unwanted critters make their way inside, where not only are they not wanted, but don’t belong.