Just weeks after plague was detected
in ground squirrels in the desert south of Boise, initial testing of voles following a "mortality event" near Highway 19 west of Caldwell indicates the presence of plague bacteria, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Health officials said the infection "appears to be localized and not widespread," though they are cautioning the public to take appropriate safety precautions while in the area, avoid groups of dead rodents and report signs of illness. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game does not believe there is a link between the infected ground squirrels discovered in May and the infected voles found in Canyon County.
Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of chills, fever, headache and weakness, as well as swelling of lymph nodes in the the neck, groin and armpit. In animals, symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. People who suspect that they or their pets are exhibiting these symptoms should contact an appropriate health care provider: The survivability of plague infection can be greatly increased with antibiotics.
Health officials have outlined a number of safety precautions for humans and pets, including keeping pets from hunting voles or other rodents, using flea control products on pets, keeping pets' food and water away from where wild animals can reach them and removing wood, hay, compost and tall grasses from near the home.
Between 2005 and 2010, USDA Wildlife Services tested carnivores for plague antibodies, with 18 animals testing positive. Five human cases—all successfully treated—have been reported in Idaho since 1940.