Five animals test positive for plague in Santa Fe

Five animals tested positive for the plague in southern Santa Fe, New Mexico in November, according to the state Department of Health.

The New Mexico Department of Health reported five plague cases were found in animals in south Santa Fe in November.

The department confirmed the bacterial disease in a mouse, a dog and three cats. All the animals were associated with residences between Cerrillos Road and Old Las Vegas Highway along the Interstate 25 corridor.

The disease is usually found on rodents, but fleas can transmit the plague by jumping to a person or pet and biting the skin, the department said.

“We are seeing die-offs of rabbits, squirrels, pack rats and various rodents in several areas of New Mexico from both plague and tularemia,” said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian in a statement.

Pet owners should prevent their animals from roaming, and use flea-control products. Additionally, home owners should clean up areas with wood laying around and brush piles that generally attract rodents. Sick pets should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible, and residents should see their doctor if they have any suspicious illness.

Symptoms of the plague include chills, weakness and headache, sudden fever, and painful lymph node swelling in the groin, armpit or neck. Animals tend to have a loss of appetite, swelling under the jaw, fever and lethargy. About 17 cases of the plague in dogs and cats, and two human cases, were reported in New Mexico in 2014. Both human cases recovered.

In 2013, there were four human cases of the plague in the state with one person dying from the illness.