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Health and Medicine

Don’t Touch Dead Squirrels In Idaho -- They Might Have Plague

Officials from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are asking people to take precautions around ground squirrels after a squirrel south of Boise tested positive for plague.

State wildlife officials warn it’s likely not the only one. They’ve mapped out a suspected area of plague infection between Boise and Mountain Home, south to the Snake River.

Plague can spread to humans and pets, typically through fleas. It’s rare. The last human case in Idaho was in 1992 and the patient recovered.

Still, public health officials warn even in the age of modern antibiotics, plague can fatal if left untreated. It typically starts with a sudden fever, followed by painful swelling in the lymph nodes.

The state is asking people to keep their pets from roaming around the desert south of Boise. They say people should apply insect repellent to themselves and flea control products to pets.

Idaho Fish and Game is requesting reports of dead squirrels. But officials say: don’t touch the squirrel carcasses. In case you had plans to do that.