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Campground Closed Due to Plague

Natural Bridges National Monument

National Park News

Three dead deer mice collected in the small 13-site campground at Natural Bridges National Monument have tested presumptive positive for plague. As a safety precaution, the campground has been closed, effective immediately, until a suitable course of treatment can be determined and implemented. The campground will reopen when no traces of plague remain. At this time, there is no evidence that infected animals are elsewhere in the area, but park trails and nearby areas are being closely monitored for any indication of wider occurrence.

Because recent outbreaks of plague were discovered in nearby southwestern Colorado and since plague is know to occur throughout the Four-Corners area, park staff grew concerned when dead rodents were discovered in the park’s central developed area. Specimens were sent to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Fort Collins, Colorado for analysis, and three of the five animals tested positive. The CDC lab is conducting a second definitive plague test, and the results should be available by the end of next week.

Deer mice—Peromyscus maniculatus—the animals testing positive for the plague—are common in the pinon-juniper country of the Colorado Plateau. According to information from the CDC, deer mice are thought to maintain the disease in animal populations, but are less important as sources of human infection.


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