Utah campground shut by plague outbreak

May 16, 2006 at 1:52 PM
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BLANDING, Utah, May 16 (UPI) -- The campground at Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument has been closed because of an outbreak of bubonic plague among rodents, a report said.

National Park Service officials said fleas that transmit the so-called Black Death to field mice and chipmunks would be killed with insecticides.

When satisfied that has worked, the popular campground 40 miles west of Blanding, Utah, will be reopened, officials said.

"We come down on the conservative side when it comes to closing campgrounds," Joe Winkelmaier of U.S. Public Health Service told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We just like to be sure when it comes to plague."

Park Service officials said there has never been a reported human case of bubonic plaque contracted at a national park or national monument.

In addition to Natural Bridges, rodent plague outbreaks have been reported in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park and Colorado National Monument.

The United States averages 18 human cases of bubonic plague each year -- mostly in Arizona and New Mexico.

Topics: Mesa Verde
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