Squirrels infected with plague close California campground

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Plague-infected squirrel shuts Los Angeles park


California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

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Parts of a national forest in California have been evacuated and closed down after a squirrel was found to be infected with the plague.

Los Angeles officials say visitors were ordered to leave the Angeles National Forest as a precaution after the rodent was trapped in a routine check.

They said no people in the area were believed to have been infected with the disease, known as the Black Death.

The plague killed as many as 25 million Europeans during the Middle Ages.


It sounds like a screenplay for a Hollywood B-movie: bubonic plague-infected squirrels descend on Los Angeles. But despite the excitement among Angelenos on social media about the “Black Death” being found at a California campsite, health officials say this is not a problem for urban squirrels.

City conditions do not lend themselves to having fleas co-existing in large numbers as they would in a forested area, they say. Even in this forest area where the squirrel was found on Thursday, only five “plague-positive” squirrels have turned up in the last 20 years or so. This particular squirrel is dead – tests are being conducted to determine if it died of natural causes or the plague itself.

It is a bacterial infection which can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas.

If not treated with antibiotics, it is usually deadly.

There have been only four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County since 1984, none of which were fatal, according to officials.

Further testing of squirrels in the region will be carried out before the campgrounds are re-opened to the public.

Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, told the BBC that agriculture workers would dust squirrel burrows in order to reduce the flea population.

He said that while the area was closed to camping, people would still be able to hike through.

He advised that anyone who wished to do so should use insect repellent and ensure that any pets they bring have a flea collar.


From wikipedia.org…..

Bubonic plague

is a zoonotic disease, circulating mainly in fleas[1] on small rodents and is one of three types of bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis (formerly known as Pasteurella pestis), which belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within 4 days.

The term bubonic plague is derived from the Greek word βουβών, meaning “groin.” Swollen lymph nodes (buboes) especially occur in the armpit and groin in persons suffering from bubonic plague. Bubonic plague was often used synonymously for plague, but it does in fact refer specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in flea-borne infections.

Bubonic plaguealong with the septicemic plague and the pneumonic plague, which are the two other manifestations of Y. pestisis commonly believed to be the cause of the Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century and killed an estimated 25 million people, or 3060% of the European population.[2] Because the plague killed so many of the working population, wages rose and some historians have seen this as a turning point in European economic development.[3][4]


More about Bubonic_plague from wikipedia.org



Wrightwood, CA (KTLA) — Several campgrounds near Wrightwood were closed by health officials on Wednesday after a ground squirrel tested positive for plague.

The squirrel was trapped on July 16 during routine surveillance activities and later tested positive for plague, according to a new release from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Broken Blade, Twisted Arrow, and Pima Loops of the Table Mountain Campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest were officially closed at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

They were expected to remain closed for at least seven days, officials said.

Campers were notified about the closures by Forest Service officials.

Squirrel burrows in the area will be dusted for fleas, and further testing will be done before the area is re-opened to the public, officials said.

“Plague is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, which is why we close affected campgrounds…

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