Plague Found In Dogs And Cats Of New Mexico

This week I received an Animal Health Smartbrief from the American Veterinary Medical Association which announced pets in New Mexico contracted plague.  According to the New Mexico Department of Health, two dogs and two cats contracted the plague this spring.  The hantavirus is carried by fleas often found on rodents.  Fortunately, all of the animals recovered from the disease. 

To protect your family – both human and animal from this serious disease, the New Mexico Department of Health recommends the following:

1) Avoid contact with wild rodents, dead or alive.  Clean up brush or other debris where rodents nest.  Seal up cracks and holes to keep rodents out of your home.  Disinfect areas contaminated with rodent droppings and keep your pet’s food indoors, away from rodents.
2) Practice good flea control/prevention on your pets to keep fleas out of your home.
3) Seek immediate veterinary attention for sick pets.  Common signs include fever, lethargy, anorexia and swollen glands especially in the neck.
4) Seek immediate attention if you experience a sudden fever and swollen lymph nodes (also called glands).  Early treatment is the key to surviving this disease.

With the increase in plant growth from the wet winter fueling a surge in the rodent population, an increase in plague activity is expected.  Act now to protect yourself and your pets.   More information is available from

“Department of Health Offers Advice to Stay Safe from Plague, Hantavirus: State Confirms Plague Pet Cases from Multiple Counties This Spring”, New Mexico Department of Health, April 16, 2010. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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