Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fleas test positive for plague in Coconino County

Always present in our area, but thankfully not in our county at this time. 

August 3, 2017 - 12:00 pm

Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) officials confirmed that fleas collected in the Red Lake area, approximately five miles northeast of Williams, tested positive for plague (Yersinia pestis). The tests were conducted by the Center for Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University. 

CCPHSD is notifying area residents. The burrows are being treated and the area will be closely monitored to determine if further action is required. 

This is the first location in the County where fleas have tested positive for plague this year. Because the disease is endemic in Coconino County, there are likely additional locations with infected fleas. CCPHSD Environmental Health staff will continue to collect and test flea samples from locations throughout the County.

CCPHSD is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals. The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal. To limit possible exposure, people are encouraged to avoid rodent burrows and keep dogs on a leash as required by Arizona State law.

An abundance of active prairie dogs doesn't indicate disease is present. However, a sudden die-off of prairie dogs and rodents, may be an indicator of plague. Persons noticing a sudden die-off of rodents or rabbits are urged to contact CCPHSD Environmental Services at 928-679-8750.

Symptoms of plague in humans generally appear within two to six days following exposure and include the following:  fever, chills, headache, weakness, muscle pain, and swollen lymph glands (called "buboes") in the groin, armpits or limbs. The disease can become septicemic (spreading throughout the bloodstream) and/or pneumonic (affecting the lungs), but is curable with proper antibiotic therapy if diagnosed and treated early. 

Persons living, working, camping or visiting in areas where plague and/or rodents are known to be present are urged to take the following precautions to reduce their risk of exposure:

  1. Do not handle sick or dead animals.
  2. Prevent pets from roaming loose. Pets can pick up the infected fleas of wild animals, and then pass fleas on to their human owners. This is one of the common ways for humans to contract plague. Cats with plague can also pass the disease on to humans directly thorough respiratory droplets.
  3. De-flea pets routinely. Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
  4. Avoid rodent burrows and fleas.
  5. Use insect repellents when visiting or working in areas where plague might be active or rodents might be present (campers, hikers, woodcutters and hunters).
  6. Wear rubber gloves and other protection when cleaning and skinning wild animals.
  7. Do not camp next to rodent burrows and avoid sleeping directly on the ground.
  8. Be aware that cats are highly susceptible to this disease and while they can get sick from a variety of illnesses, a sick cat (especially one allowed to run at large outside) should receive care by a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment to reduce human exposure to plague.
  9. In case of illness see your physician immediately as treatment with antibiotics is very effective.

More information is available at

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul

Friday, March 10, 2017

Leave no trace yet enjoy the outdoors?

Recently I stumble across a great article on and while I was reading said article I also started a narrative in my head on the article, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the comment section, where I was expecting to read all the LNT disciples cheering the article, that I came across a couple that fell in line with my thoughts. 

Agree and disagree. I'm not a fan of the LNT mentality. Nature doesn't work that way. A deer eats a leaf, it leaves a trace. A leopard takes a stroll, it leaves spoor. Leaving a trace is not the problem, leaving an unsustainable trace is. Camping over a previous camping spot lacks awareness, littering is an obvious no no. But what if I want to find a new route, is that against the rules? One of the things I love about being in nature is I dont have to listen to somebody tell me what to do, I just interact. Who is going to curate LNT? It's not always black and white. But other than that you make some great points :)
  • Reply
  • Agent Smith's response best captures what was bothering me about this article. While most of the examples given by the author Emily Noyd of "bad behavior" by humans I 100% agree with (and I also really liked her comments about the product placement Instagraming problem/phenomenon), it is indeed possible to get carried away with the author's idea of what LNT MUST mean. I was particularly bemused at the don't-you-dare-lie-down-and-sleep-in-a-meadow; or even on GRASS! Really, in the wild??? Can I step on some? Pretty please.
    And can we get those animals to stop doing it? You know, those pesky bears, moose, elk, etc. all of whom weigh way more then moi?
    Seems to me, animals do NOT trump humans in the primitive aspects of life. I'm not talking about parking a Class C RV in an Alpine Meadow... but rather backpacking into remote areas. Animals get to burrow, nest, chomp on trees, etc. And they have been doing so long after humans moved out of the woods and into cities. Sarcasm alert: My how do these wild places survive such onslaughts???
    Maybe LNT extremists need to preach like this because too many folks have zero common sense or zero concern for nature? So much so, that preaching nonsense like I MUST bed on rock and/or dirt... ONLY... and the animals can bed in a comfy nest by "destroying" all those things we mere humans are forbidden to... is the only way to get some modified behavior out of the worst offenders???
    I certainly advocate for Agent Smith's rule of not "camping over a previous spot." But even there... with discernment! That's NOT 100% always true or even necessary.
    Most people think of LNT as a carry in, carry out rule... maybe even burying your poo! Making habitats, foundations, fire rings... cutting branches, brush... the list of "absolute" do's and dont's can be very long and are often actually conditional - requiring judgment.
    In my experience, getting people to just 100% obey a Leave No TRASH rule would indeed be a major victory."
    Now I'm all for pack in, pack out, I'm also against people who have no respect for the outdoors. In the past I spent time in the dunes tearing across the desert in off road vehicles. I've owned and driven many miles on dirt bikes and ATV's. I have also rode many a mile on single track with an MTB. Most recently I have taken a liking to hiking and backpacking. I say all this to say I've seen a lot of the outdoors. Both in high traveled National Parks, and out of the way middle of nowhere. A lot of these activities by nature violate LNT obvious. However never once did we hurt the land anymore than nature does in a single thunderstorm. 

    Now after saying all that, there are a lot of people who trash natural places. they cut switchbacks, run over vegetation, leave trash in camp, and tear up mud holes in the name of fun. Nature will erase the signs of those who respect it enough not to destroy it, just like it erases the signs of deer and larger mammals, (my hunting friends can attest to that) but like humans who trash nature, there are also pests like rats, rabbits, beavers and the like that destroy trees, block streams, build large nests that destroy yuccas and other delicate desert fauna. We should teach them leave no trace as well.

    So I say, I'm going to continue enjoying the outdoors. I'm going to camp in beautiful areas, I'm going to Instagram them, I'm going to drive off road, but I will not leave trash behind, nor will I damage natural places I visit. I will leave a trace. My presence will impact were I am, but no more than nature also does.