Lab tests have confirmed plague in a dog in Rio Rancho, N.M., prompting the state's health department to urge residents to take measures to protect themselves and their pets from exposure to the illness. The bacterial disease can spread to people through infected flea bites or when people come into contact with infected rodents, rabbits and other animals. "Pets infected with plague are often hunters who have eaten an infected rodent or been bitten by a rodent's fleas prior to getting ill," said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian for the state's health department. "Pets can transport the fleas back into the home where they can infect people."

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