COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Tri-County Health Department confirms plague-infected fleas have been infecting and killing prairie dogs at numerous areas in Commerce City. The plague has forced the cancellation of the rescheduled 4th of July fireworks show for the city.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Commerce City open spaces area and unpaved parking areas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park have been closed while crews treat the area.
“It is getting very serious, that’s why we’re out here today,” Gilbert Cazier is with the Tri-County Health Department. “We’re assessing the situation, we’re posting signs, and we’re also dusting some of the holes with insecticide to try to prevent flea transmission.”
The concern is that fleas carrying the plague have begun infecting and killing a prairie dog colony just north of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“If you’re out and about with your dog, make sure that you try to keep them on a leash, that way you’re able to make sure that they aren’t going around sniffing into the prairie dog holes, getting those fleas on them and then bringing them home to you and you could possibly get them on you and they could bite you that way.”
They coat the holes with an insecticide, as the prairie dogs come and go, the powder gets on their coats, killing the fleas.
“We’ll retest for fleas, flagging the holes, if we do find additional fleas then we’ll retreat as needed.”
A process that will take a couple of weeks or longer depending on whether or not the fleas come back.
“I would just remind people, just to be cautious of where they are, protect yourself, wear the insect repellent, be mindful of your pets keep them on leashes.”
And he says if you do have symptoms, you should visit your doctor.
“With us humans, we do have antibiotics that you can treat it with, but with then they are just out and about and eventually it will kill them.”
The Colorado Rapids say Saturday’s match will go on as planned, but the fireworks show scheduled for after the game has been canceled.