Prairie dogs and squirrels and rats, oh my

A news release from the Illinois Department of Agriculture last week informed me that the quarantine of premises with wild and exotic pets has been expanded, as there is new evidence that indicates more than one Illinois pet dealer may have received animals exposed to the monkeypox virus. These animals include prairie dogs. I’m sorry, but who in their right mind would want to have a prairie dog as a house-pet? Prairie dogs are ground squirrels! I completely understand finding orphaned baby squirrels and feeding them with an eye dropper until they are strong enough to be on their own in the wild. Sometimes those orphaned squirrels will come back as adults and expect the occasional walnut or grape hand-out, but how many of you, by choice, would pay money to share your home with a squirrel?

And if offering up a prairie dog as a pet is not enough, many pet stores also sell Gambian Giant Pouched Rats. Did you hear me? I said rats. R-A-T-S. Can you imagine coming home to find inside your house, an eight pound, 30-inch animal closely resembling the sort of rodent that if found in the feed room of the barn, is eliminated as soon as possible? Apparently, these rats are the source of the monkeypox outbreak, as they came in contact with Prairie Dogs that contracted and then spread the disease.

The quarantines issued by the IDOA restrict the movement of animals and are necessary to halt the spread of the monkeypox virus, which has infected nine Illinoisans since it was first diagnosed in this country in June. The disease got it’s name because it was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. According to the Center for Disease Control, Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that occurs mainly in the rain forest countries of central and west Africa. In 1970, monkeypox was reported in humans for the first time.

In June of this year, monkeypox was reported in prairie dogs and humans in the United States. In humans, monkeypox is similar to smallpox, although it is often milder. Unlike smallpox, monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell. The illness begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, a general feeling of discomfort, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a papular rash often first on the face but sometimes initially on other parts of the body. The lesions usually develop through several stages before crusting and falling off.
The illness typically lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.

Monkeypox can spread to humans from an infected animal through an animal bite or direct contact with the animal’s lesions or body fluids.

The bureau of animal welfare licenses pet shop operators and is helping to trace exposed animals. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is working with the pet stores under quarantine to minimize the disruption to their business.

In MY opinion, it would be more effective and a hec of a lot cheaper to go down to the feed store and pick up a box of wax bars and a couple of really big rat traps.

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