Arizona Finds Plague-Carrying Fleas

Bryan Michalek | August 14, 2017
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In the past two weeks, fleas testing positive for the plague, the infamous Middle Ages disease that led to the deaths of millions, have been found in at least two Arizona counties.

The fleas carrying the disease were most recently discovered in Navajo County, according to an ABC News report. The news came after officials confirmed Friday that the fleas found in the area have tested positive for the disease. The public health warning was similar to one that was previously issued in Coconino County, where Arizona health officials first discovered the disease.

The health advisory warning from Navajo County reads:

"Navajo County Health Department 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."

Public health officials also urged those living, working, camping or visiting in areas where the fleas have been found to take precautions to reduce exposure risks. Avoiding sick or dead animals, keeping pets from roaming the areas, and avoiding rodent burrows and fleas were among some of the steps laid out to decrease spread. 

Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited studies that suggest the emergence of the plague occasionally occurs in southwestern states in the U.S. like Arizona during summers that are cooler and follow wet winters.

Plague symptoms include sudden fevers, headache, chills, and physical weakness. Other symptoms include swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes and according to the CDC, the bacteria can spread throughout the body if not treated. 

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