Sask. prairie dog found dead of plague
Parks Canada officials are alerting the public after a Saskatchewan prairie dog was found dead of plague.
The carcass of the black-tailed prairie dog was found on the edge of the Larson prairie dog colony in Grasslands National Park in the southern part of the province.
Tests confirmed the rodent had been infected with the Yersina pestis bacteria, the same type of organism that causes bubonic and pneumonic plague in humans.
With rodents, the disease is called sylvatic plague. Park officials said it's a rare but naturally occurring disease that affects squirrels and mice throughout the southern Prairies.
Transmission to humans occurs through infected flea bites, but it's extremely rare for people to contract the disease, Parks Canada said in a news release.
Grasslands National Park will remain open, but Parks Canada is recommending that visitors not walk through prairie dog colonies.
Pets are now banned from the park's prairie dog colonies. Officials are also advising visitors to the park to use insect repellent on their pants and shoes.
Health agencies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Cypress Health Region, have been notified, Parks Canada said.