There has already been 1 case of plague, not too far from my house. There are a couple things you can do to keep yourself and your pets safe.
Make sure that your pets are protected from fleas, slip a flea collar on them or give them monthly drops (I recommend Frontline drops). The problem with the drops is that you must remember them every month, whereas a flea collar lasts for 5 months or so.
Never touch a dead animal. If you must remove or bury a dead animal, make sure your body is covered, as much as possible, use a shovel to lift it and hold it as far away from yourself as possible. If it is a large animal call the local wildlife authorities to remove it.