by Morgan DeSpain
Wellington Veterinary Hospital – http://www.wellingtonvets.com
You may or may not have heard about a recent case of plague in a dog in
Fort Collins. A dog was euthanized after a laboratory test confirmed it
was positive for the plague, a few days after sniffing a dead prairie
dog. Plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. There
are 3 forms of the plague: pneumonic, bubonic and septicemic. People
and animals can become infected when bitten by an infected flea or
through direct contact with infected tissues. Infection can even occur
by inhaling respiratory secretions from infected animals or people.
Humans rarely become infected, but if they do, it can be life
To protect both you and your pets from exposure to plague, keep your
pets on flea and tick prevention year round and avoid sick or dead
rodents that carry fleas. Signs of plague in pets include fever,
decreased appetite, and swelling under the jaw or under the front limbs.
These swellings, or abscesses, rupture over time and the discharge can
cause infection in people or animals. If your pet has a swelling or
abscess, plague or a regular abscess could be the cause. A culture
performed by your veterinarian can determine the difference.
The key to plague prevention is flea prevention and avoiding exposure to
rodents and their nests. To find out more about plague, schedule an
appointment with your veterinarian.