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Second Elmore County Cat Dies, Officials Suspect Plague

Central District Health Department
New area of plague impact.

A second cat in Elmore County has likely died of plague. This cat lived outside the plague area boundary drawn by health officials.

This is the second cat death in a week. The Central District Health Department reports this cat lived two miles from Mountain Home and lived both indoors and outdoors. It had contact with ground squirrels before it died. Members of both families, along with the rest of their pets, are being monitored to make sure the cats did not spread the plague.

Final lab results on the animals will come in next week.

Because of the new feline death, officials are expanding the map of the affected area. But Mark Drew, State Wildlife Veterinarian, warns rodents outside the map could carry plague, so people and pet owners should take caution.

“Plague is likely present at some level in ground squirrel populations throughout the sagebrush habitat in southern Idaho. With the known confirmed cases in these areas we want to tell people to be aware and be able to take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their pets from plague,” says Drew. That includes keeping pets from hunting or roaming in the affected area.

Late last month, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game found plague in dead ground squirrels in Ada County. Plague activity can go up in spring and summer in rodents. But wildlife experts say ground squirrels hibernate in late June and early July, and the threat will decrease.

Plague is transmitted through bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected animals. That includes ground squirrels, rats, voles and mice. Tree squirrels in Idaho do not carry plague.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio

As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.