Two people died from human plague last year and were likely infected by
prairie dogs. These deaths are among the five cases reported by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1996.
An 18-year-old man from Flagstaff, Arizona was bitten by fleas while walking
through a colony of prairie dogs in the northeast part of the state.
The same month, a 16-year-old Colorado girl contracted the plague. It is
reported that she lived near an area where many prairie dogs had died. The
CDC believes she got the plague from her cat, who became infected from the
prairie dogs. Cats can get infected from fleas or rodents and pass it on
when they bite, scratch or lick humans.
Human plague can be treated with antibiotics if treatment is begun early
enough. There have been 390 of human plague in the United States since
1947, resulting in 60 deaths. Most of the cases are from Arizona,
California, Colorado and New Mexico.