MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho – A cat in Elmore County is recovering from plague, public health officials say. They say no additional pets or people are reported ill with the infection, but caution people to take steps to protect their families and their pets when out and about.  

“It is important to take precautions to avoid contact with ground squirrels and their fleas,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho State Public Health veterinarian, said in a prepared statement. “Make sure your pets have proper flea control and keep them away from ground squirrel habitat, if possible.”

It is believed the infected cat had recent contact with a rodent, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which may have been a ground squirrel. The cat was treated promptly by a veterinarian and is recovering.

Plague is transmitted through the bite of infected fleas and can cause serious illness in people and pets if not treated promptly. It also can be transmitted to people by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits, and pets. Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles, and mice. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague.

Health officials say simple precautions include avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas, and rodent carcasses. For more precautionary steps, visit the health department website.