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Contact: Nancy Stimson, 307 467 5283
Several dead prairie dogs and other rodents recently found in Devils Tower National Monument have tested positive for tularemia. This year, tularemia has been widely reported in Wyoming and some neighboring states.
Tularemia is a naturally occurring bacterial disease transmitted by infected insects and ticks to rabbits, hares, muskrats, beavers and other small rodents.Tularemia can also spread to humans and can cause serious clinical symptoms. People can help prevent infection by using insect repellent, washing hands, and giving wildlife their space. Never consume water that has not been treated or boiled.
In humans, tularemia can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever and chills, joint pain, muscle aches and headaches, dry cough and chest pain and an open sore and swelling at the site of a tick bite or swollen lymph nodes. If someone becomes ill with any of these symptoms within two weeks of being in an affected area, they should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about possible exposure to tularemia. Tularemia can be treated successfully with antibiotics. For more information about tularemia visit www.cdc.gov/Tularemia and www.health.wyo.gov/news.aspx?NewsID=841
Although tularemia is a native disease that occurs naturally, human impacts on the environment can affect wildlife habitats and promote the transmission and spread of diseases such as tularemia. By appreciating wildlife from a distance, we can help protect ourselves from tularemia.
Monument staff are monitoring this situation closely in consultation with the NPS Wildlife Health Branch, the NPS Office of Public Health and state partners. All Monument visitors are reminded of the importance to comply with regulations that require pets to be leashed and prohibit the touching and feeding of wildlife. Visitors encountering dead or sick wildlife should not touch or move the animal, and should report the location to park staff as soon as possible.
To learn more about Devils Tower National Monument, contact 307-467-5283, visit us online at www.nps.gov/deto, www.facebook.com/Devils-Tower-National-Monument-Official-NPS-Site or twitter.com @DevilsTowerNM.