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Squirrels infected with plague found on Palomar Mountain


September 17, 2013
Three squirrels trapped during routine monitoring in the Cedar Grove campground near Palomar Mountain have tested positive for plague according to a statement issued by the San Diego County Communications Office.

According to the county's vector control program, the group which monitors flea populations at campgrounds and takes action to reduce the flea population when disease is found, it is not uncommon to find the plague in San Diego County.

Due to the discovery of the infected squirrels, campers and hikers are being urged to take steps to protect themselves from the disease which can cause serious illness or even death in humans if infected. The bacterial disease of rodents is spread when people come in contact with infected animals or their fleas, according to the press release.

"People can protect themselves from being exposed to plague," said San Diego County Environmental Health Director Jack Miller. "Just remember, don't feed or play with squirrels, report dead squirrels to camp rangers, and do not set up your tents near squirrel burrows."

Precautions include avoiding contact with ground squirrels, chipmunks and other wild animals, avoiding resting, camping and sleeping near animal burrows in the ground, not feeding, handling or touching wild animals and by not touching sick or dead animals.

Pets can be protected by keeping them on a leash and using flea control products or by leaving pets at home.

Visitors to areas known to have plague should contact their doctor immediately if they become sick within a week of visiting the area. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, chills and tender swollen lymph nodes.

For more information about plague surveillance, call the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or visit the website at www.sdvector.com.

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