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Confirmed: Plague & Tularemia in East Mountains

Residents urged to take precautions.

The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the Bernalillo County Office of Health and Social Services want to advise citizens living in the East Mountains area that plague and tularemia continue to remain active and pose a potential risk to public health.

"The increased rainfall we have seen over the last two years has allowed for more vegetation growth and increased rodent populations," said Dr. Paul Smith, a manager for the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. "A larger number of rodents often lead to more occurrences of both plague and tularemia."

Although there have been no human cases of plague so far in Bernalillo County in 2014, 3 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 rabbit have been confirmed with plague infection. The most recent plague confirmation was made on October 6. Tularemia has been confirmed in 6 dogs, 3 rabbits, 2 cats and 1 person. This person was treated with antibiotics and fully recovered from the infection. The majority of confirmed animal cases for 2014 have occurred in the Sandia Park area, and additional cases have been detected in the Edgewood area in nearby Santa Fe County.

"Though plague and tularemia activity usually decreases as we approach the winter months, infection can occur year-round," said Dr. Mark DiMenna, Deputy Director for the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. "With the high level of activity this year, citizens need to continue to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their pets."

Plague & Rularemia Precautions

Reduce the risk of Plague and Tularemia:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin, and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents.
  • Ensure that dogs and cats have year-round flea and tick control. Prevent pets from hunting and avoid having dogs and cats sleeping in bed with people.
  • Clean up brush and debris piles around the home. Stack firewood away from the house and elevate off the ground using firewood stands to eliminate rodent harborage.
  • Bernalillo County citizens living east of Tramway Blvd. should report sick or dead rodents and rabbits to 311. Rodents or rabbits with obvious signs of injury (gunshot wounds, bite wounds, etc…) do not need to be reported.