The Stevens Creek campground on Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti National Recreation Area was closed Wednesday, August 10 after several dead prairie dogs were discovered in the campground on Monday, August 8th.
National Park Service personnel coordinated with the Center for Disease Control, which reported a positive finding of bubonic plague in a specimen on Wednesday. Bubonic plague naturally occurs in a number of different species of rodents. Cycles of prairie dog colony deaths appear to occur every ten years.
Since a large colony of Gunnison's Prairie dogs is within the Stevens Creek campground boundaries, it was closed. Old Stevens Picnic area has also been closed. NPS public health program officials have recommended precautions for recent visitors to the area. Visitors have been advised to see a physician with any symptoms that include: fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, a feeling of weakness, and commonly swollen and tender lymph nodes. Pets should be protected with flea powder and flea collars. Pets becoming sick after visiting the area, particularly cats, should be taken to a veterinarian.
Additional information about bubonic plague may be found on the Center for Disease Control's website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/plague/qa.htm
The National Park Service does not anticipate reopening this campground before the end of the 2005 summer season. The plague will be permitted to run its natural course. Other colonies of prairie dogs within the park appear healthy and are isolated from the Stevens Creek colony. The other major campgrounds at Lake Fork and Elk Creek remain open.