Squirrel with plague shuts down campground

July 7, 2010 at 12:28 AM
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LOS ANGELES, July 7 (UPI) -- A campground in a national forest north of Los Angeles will be closed at least a week after a squirrel caught there tested positive for plague, officials said.

The Los Alamos Campground in Angeles National Forest, operated by the U.S. Forest Service, will reopen only after squirrel burrows are dusted and other tests are conducted, Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County public health director, told the Los Angeles Times.

The camp closed Saturday.

"We're fortunate to have caught this," Fielding told the newspaper. "This case now is about prevention."

Plague, a bacterial disease in wild rodents, can be transmitted to humans by infected fleas' bites.

A deadly form of the disease, bubonic plague, causes enlargement of the lymph glands near the flea bite, fever and chills. Untreated, it can infect blood and occasionally the lungs, causing pneumonic plague, a severe lung infection.

Fielding said there have been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County since 1984, none of them fatal.

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