DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports a cat has been diagnosed with plague in Los Alamos County, making it the first plague case in New Mexico this year.
“NMDOH staff will conduct an environmental investigation to ensure the safety of the immediate family and neighbors,” said Secretary-Designate Dr. Tracie Collins. “We also offer a friendly reminder: even in the midst of a global pandemic, other diseases still occur in New Mexico, and there are steps people can take to keep themselves and their pets safe.”
The cat, which became ill in early January, has now recovered following veterinary treatment.
Plague is a bacterial disease in wildlife and is generally transmitted to pets through the bites of infected fleas or after eating an infected animal. Humans can also contract plague via infected fleas or direct contact with infected animals.
Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck area. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite; there may be swelling in the lymph nodes under the jaw. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the probability of death in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians or veterinarians who suspect plague should promptly report to NMDOH by calling (505) 827-0006.
To prevent plague:
- Avoid sick or dead rodents and rabbits, as well as their nests and burrows.
- Prevent your pets from roaming and hunting.
- Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets.
- Have any sick pets examined promptly by a veterinarian.
- Contact your medical provider about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.
- Clean up areas near the home where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
- Place hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
- Avoid leaving pet food and water where rodents and wildlife can access it.
For more information, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department of Health’s website at: https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/ideb/zdp/plg.