Plague Squirrels Close Down California Campground

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(Photo: Reuters/File)

Plague-infected squirrels have closed a California campground for at least a week, according to Los Angeles County health officials.

According to reports, test results came back on Thursday confirming that a squirrel caught on July 16 in the Table Mountain Campgrounds of Angeles National Forest, had tested positive for the infection.

A health advisory has been issued and the campground has been closed as investigators move in to test other squirrels in the park, and also dust the area for plague-infected fleas.

L.A. County health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in a statement, "Plague is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, which is why we close affected campgrounds and recreational areas as a precaution while preventive measures are taken to control the flea population."

The plague killed about 60 percent of the European population between 1348 and 1420, and although it is very rare in present times, there are an average of seven human cases each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plague is now treatable with antibiotics, but is extremely dangerous if left untreated, and can result in serious illness or even death.

"It is important for the public to know that there have only been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County residents since 1984, none of which were fatal," Fielding said.

Symptoms include, fever, chills and enlarged lymph nodes, known as buboes, near the bite, according to the CDC, which says on its website: "The earlier a patient seeks medical care and receives treatment that is appropriate for plague, the better their chances are of a full recovery."

For more information about the campground closure call (626) 430-5450.

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