COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Several locations in Commerce City are closed as health officials investigate cases of plague in prairie dogs. The voluntary closures include Commerce City open space areas, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and unpaved parking areas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Officials at the Tri-County Health Department say plague-infested fleas are affecting the prairie dog colonies in the region.
“Plague in prairie dog colonies is common in Colorado and can be managed safely with insecticide to kill the fleas that spread the disease,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “Our partners have voluntarily closed these locations to prevent any humans or pets from wandering into the affected areas.”
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is temporarily closed to the public as staff implements the refuge’s prairie dog management plan. Additional information will be posted on the refuge’s website.
In Commerce City, the Prairie Gateway Open Space is closed along with the fields located at the corner of E. 56 Ave. and Quebec St., and E. 56th Ave. and Valentia Street.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has restricted cars to asphalt parking areas and has canceled their Saturday evening fireworks display. In a press release, the Tri-County Health Department said these precautions will “greatly minimize the risk of exposure to patrons, players and employees visiting this weekend and help ensure a safe experience for all attendees.”
Health officials say there are no known human cases at this time. Symptoms of plague in humans include fever, swollen and tender lymph nodes, chills, and extreme exhaustion. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed should contact their health care provider.
Dogs that are exposed to plague do not usually get sick, but can transport the fleas. Officials at the Tri-County Health Department say they will continue to monitor locations in Commerce City and other prairie dog colonies in the region.