Lubbock Health Department Alerts Local Doctors about Potential Plague Threat - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/12/04

Lubbock Health Department Alerts Local Doctors about Potential Plague Threat

The Lubbock Health Department is issuing warnings to local doctors and veterinarians to be on the look out for plague symptoms in both humans and animals. Several cases of the plague have sparked up over the last couple of weeks here in West Texas. It is usually passed from rodents to other animals like dogs or cats, even humans. And in rare cases can be fatal. As a prevention tactic, the Lubbock Health Department is alerting area doctors.

Ken Condon of the Lubbock Health Department is one of the first lines of defense in plague prevention. He's begun sending faxes and e-mails to local clinics about a potential threat to the South Plains.

"To inform them that it's around us to increase the index of suspicion to when you see something that might look like plague consider it," says Ken Condon, with the Lubbock Health Department. Not a new threat to West Texas, but one that remains here, flaring up at any time.

Over the last couple of weeks the Texas Department of Health confirmed several cases of the plague. Discovered in rats in Glasscock and Midland counties and prairie dogs in Dallam county in far Northwest Texas.

Not here at home but the Lubbock Health Department says it's close enough to take preventative measures. "The plague is endemic in our area so it means that it resides here, it's certainly a medical concern," says Condon.

The plague is carried by rodents who have been bitten by an infected flea. In rare cases humans become infected, and even household pets like dogs and cats can also fall victim. "Absolutely it'll kill them," says local Veterinarian, Dr. Louis Farr.

He says though plague cases are rare in pets they can occur. "I think it's more prevalent in cats than it is in dogs but can be in either one of them," says Dr. Farr. And if one of your pets becomes sick, you should contact your local vet but most importantly keep fleas off your pets

It's hard to tell if an animal is sick with the plague specifically. If your pets has fleas and it's sick, take it to the vet. Symptoms of the plague in humans show up more quickly, within a few days. If you have flu like symptoms, restlessness, confusion and extreme tiredness you will want to contact your doctor.

There are a few more things you can do to keep your family safe.

  • First, remove fleas from your yard and pets using flea control products.
  • Second, remove places around your home where rodents can live, like trash and tall weeds.
  • And use flea control before killing any rodents. If you kill the rodents first, the fleas can get on your pets.
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