"Old Concho, Apache County is now considered a plague-positive area." Flees carrying bubonic plague causing prairie dog die-off
(photo by Carl Auer)
The Apache County Health Department recently notified the public about a new prairie dog die-off in Concho.
A previous die-off was reported in early July.
A notice posted on the Apache County website on July 24 states: "The Health Department has received an additional report of another prairie dog die-off in Old Concho."
The notice bluntly states that "Old Concho is now considered a plague-positive area."
The die-off occurred earlier in July.
Fleas, and the rodents they commonly live on and feed off of, act as hosts for the life cycle of the bubonic plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis.
Prairie dogs are quite susceptible to the disease and die quickly.
Since their hosts are dead and the fleas can no longer get a meal of blood from them, the insects abandon their hosts who die deep in their burrows.
They climb up and hang out near the entrance of the burrow, hoping to catch a ride and a meal on another passing animal, usually another rodent.
The new area of infestation is on the opposite side of Highway 61 northwest from the original infestation.