On Friday, Navajo and Coconino County Public Health Services warned the public after fleas in the two regions tested positive for the plague. Yes, the same plague that killed millions during the Middle Ages. Both counties are in the northern part of Arizona.
“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.” 1
The CDC says symptoms of plague include a sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes. If the highly contagious disease is left untreated, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body.
Officials in the two counties also urged anyone living, working, camping or visiting Navajo or Coconino County to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure by avoiding sick or dead animals, keeping pets on a leash, and avoiding rodent burrows and fleas.2
While we may view the plague as long gone, the CDC says that studies seem to show that outbreaks of the plague can occasionally happen in the southwestern U.S. states during cooler summers that follow wet winters.3