Plague

Mark Iocchelli / Flickr

Earlier this year, we reported that two Elmore County cats had died after an outbreak of plague in ground squirrels.

Central District Health Department

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.

For the second year in a row, Idaho health officials say preliminary tests on dead ground squirrels south of Boise have come back positive for plague.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is still confirming the diagnosis, but officials are asking the public to be cautious.

A map of the infected area is a circle shape extending about 45 miles south from Boise to the Snake River. The boundary also extends over Interstate 84 but doesn't reach Mountain Home.

Evan James hymo/Wikipedia

Health officials say a third area in southwestern Idaho has rodents that are likely infected with plague.

Laurie Boston with the Southwest District Health Department says six voles and one wild mouse from the Riddle area were tested. One vole showed probable plague infection.

Riddle is 79 miles south of Mountain Home. The vole was found along Highway 51 in southern Owyhee County.

Neil Weightman / Flickr

A dog in Ada County has tested positive for plague. It’s the first case – human or canine – of the bacterial disease since officials reported an outbreak in ground squirrels south of Boise two weeks ago.

Epidemiologist Sarah Correll is with the Central District Health Department. She says a preliminary test came back positive, which means the dog likely has the plague. Results from a second test will come back next week.

USAF Airman Shane Phipps

Idaho health officials say ground squirrels south of Boise have tested positive for plague. They say humans and pets should avoid the area.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in a statement Friday says the bacterial disease can be spread by the bites of fleas or by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets.

“We have investigated reported mortalities of ground squirrels in the area southeast of Boise during May,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said.