FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Prairie dog holes around northern Arizona are being dusted with an insecticide to help prevent the spread of the plague.

Fleas carry the disease and spread it through host animals, like prairie dogs, foxes, coyotes, badgers and pets. Fleas infected with the plague have been found recently north of Williams and west of Flagstaff.

Holly Hicks is a small mammals biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. She says the plague can spread easily through prairie dog colonies.

Crews with the department and the Kaibab National Forest recently dusted prairie dog holes near Red Lake outside of Williams. They also dusted 1.3 square miles (3.4 square kilometers) near Garland Prairie.

Officials say humans should avoid handling sick or dead animals. They also say pets shouldn’t roam loose.

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