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Plague Infection in Prairie Dogs


Plague is a disease that can occur in several species of animals, including rodents and humans. The form of the plague that occurs in rodents is known as sylvatic plague, which is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. This is, in fact, the same bacteria which causes plague in humans. It can be spread through flea bites, small droplets of fluid expelled in the air by coughing or sneezing in the air, and direct contact.


Plague may also be transmitted from prairie dogs to humans, though the risk is very low. It is, however, prudent to take appropriate precautions when handling any newly wild-caught prairie dog.




  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Swollen lymph nodes




Plague disease is caused by Yersinia pestis, the same bacteria that causes human plague. It can be spread through fleabites, droplets in the air, and direct contact.




The veterinarian will diagnose the plague infection when the prairie dog suffers from sudden general sickness. Laboratory tests, meanwhile, will be used to confirm the causative bacteria, Yersinia pestis.