Monday, May 22, 2006
The small 13-site campground at Natural Bridges National Monument has been reopened after a three week closure. The campground was closed April 29 when three deer mice tested presumptive positive for plague. As a safety precaution, the campground was closed until a suitable course of treatment could be determined and implemented.
The parkâs developed zones including the visitor center, campground, trail heads and residential area were dusted with insecticides recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Park Service Public Health Program. Follow-up testing indicated the treatment was effective, and the park received clearance to reopen the campground.
Park staff is continuing to closely monitor the area for any indication of reoccurrence of the plague.
Plague is known to occur throughout the Four-Corners area. Visitors and residents should be aware that chipmunks, ground squirrels, rock squirrels and other wild rodents in this area may be infected with plague. One should avoid contact with wild rodents and not touch these sick or dead animals.
Deer miceâPeromyscus maniculatusâthe animals which tested positive for the plague at Natural Bridges National Monumentâare 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.