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Health officials urge caution after plague discovered in prairie dogs

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Plague has been confirmed in prairie dogs at several sites in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, prompting officials to close some parks and take other precautions.

The Tri-County Health Department said prairie dog burrows are being sprayed with insecticide to kill fleas that could transmit the disease to the rodents, people and pets.

"It gives us a good indicator when the prairie dogs do die what is going on," explained Gilbert Cazier, an environmental health specialist with the Tri-County Health Department. "And we can treat that area from spreading and from going into other animals or humans".

The health department says Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Gateway Open Space are temporarily closed.

The department says parking at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids play, is restricted to asphalt lots, and a planned fireworks display after Saturday's game has been postponed.

Tri-County Health Director Dr. John M. Douglas Jr. says plague is common in Colorado prairie dog colonies and can be managed safely with insecticides.

For updates on conditions at the affected sites, click here.

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