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Plague-infected prairie dogs prompt cancellation of MLS fireworks show near Denver

Multiple cases of the plague in Denver-area prairie dogs prompted the cancellation of postgame festivities at a Colorado Rapids game. (Getty)

Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids announced on Friday that fireworks scheduled after Saturday’s game against the Montreal Impact will be canceled due to plague-infested fleas that have infected prairie dogs in the area.

The game, however, will go on.

The team announced that non-asphalt parking lots at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the Denver suburb of Commerce City will also be closed until further notice.

From the statement:

The health department feels that these precautions will greatly minimize the risk of exposure to patrons, players, and employees and help ensure a safe experience.

At this time, the postgame fireworks display will not be rescheduled. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our fans, staff, and local community.

Two confirmed cases of plague in prairie dogs

News of the presence of the plague in Denver-area prairie dogs broke Thursday after two confirmed cases of sylvatic plague in black-tailed prairie dogs on Wednesday.

The Tri-County Health Department announced the closure of some public spaces in Commerce City, including the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

“Several areas have been closed voluntarily,” a statement read. “Signs have been posted, and the prairie dogs’ holes are being treated with insecticide to kill any fleas that could transmit the disease to prairie dogs, humans and pets.”

Official: plague ‘common’ in prairie dogs

Tri-County Health executive director John M. Douglas Jr., M.D., wrote in the release that plague in prairie dogs is common and that the closures are an effort to prevent the spread of the disease to other species.

“Plague in prairie dog colonies is common in Colorado and can be managed safely with insecticide to kill the fleas that spread the disease,” Douglas wrote. “Our partners have voluntarily closed these locations to prevent any humans or pets from wandering into the affected areas.”

There are no known human cases of the plague in the area, according to Tri-County Health, which notes that symptoms of the disease include fever, swollen and tender lymph nodes, chills and extreme exhaustion.

It can be treated effectively by antibiotics, especially if caught early, according to the health department.

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