Idaho public health officials and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are cautioning the public after a ground squirrel found south of Boise tested positive for the plague. They are urging people to take extra precautions as they head outdoors for the Memorial Day weekend. Plague is a bacterial disease in rodents that can cause serious illness to people and pets if not treated quickly. The disease is generally transmitted by bites of infected fleas. It can also be transmitted by coming in direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets. Rodents include ground squirrels, rats and mice.

“We have investigated reported mortalities of ground squirrels in the area southeast of Boise during May,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said. “Dogs and cats can be infected with plague through hunting rodents, playing with or consuming their carcasses, or by exposure to their fleas.” Plague activity usually increase in the spring and summer when rodents are more active. People can become exposed when pets have contact with rodents or fleas. Health officials say you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with the plague by taking these precautions: FULL REPORT