Here’s another reason to stay indoors with the air conditioner and avoid wildlife: last week a California campground shut down after a squirrel tested positive for the plague.
Yes, that’s THE plague. Although apparently it’s not completely rare to find rodents infected in the U.S., especially in the western and southwestern parts of the country.
According to a story last weekend in the Los Angeles Times, the infected squirrel was found in the Los Alamos Campground in the Angeles National Forest.
The disease is transmitted via infected fleas, so park directors are dusting the burrows with flea treatment and will retest before they open the campground.
From the story in the Los Angeles Times:
“Plague is a bacterial disease in wild rodents that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of infected fleas. The symptoms of one deadly form of the disease, bubonic plague, include enlargement of the lymph glands near the flea bite and rapid onset of fever and chills. If left untreated, the disease can infect the blood, or, on rare occasions, the lungs, causing pneumonic plague.”
The park remains open and visitors are urged to avoid contact with squirrels and chipmunks and “stay clear of animal burrows, which can be hot spots for fleas.”
According to a page on the New York State Department of Health website (which was last updated in 2006; I guess the budget doesn’t include money for someone to update the health website),” There have been no reports of plague in New York State. However, exposures in the western U.S. or overseas have occasionally resulted in cases or need for investigations in the eastern U.S.”