Health

3 Angeles National Forest Campgrounds Close Due to Plague Infestation

From STAFF REPORTS
Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 8:20 AM

A ground squirrel which tested positive for plague infestation prompted the authorities to shut down three Angeles National Forest campgrounds Wednesday, July 24.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and United States Forestry Service decided to close down Table Mountain campgrounds Broken Blade, Twisted Arrow and Pima Loops for at least seven days after their examinations on a ground squirrel trapped near the campgrounds turned positive for plague infestation, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported

The agencies will be conducting flea control through squirrel burrow- and dust-searching during the closure, the newspaper said. They have also advised the residents to adopt safety measures against the disease.

“This is not causing an epidemic but (the plague) is endemic and is known to be in the United States,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director for Los Angeles County’s Public Health Department, told the Daily Bulletin.

The closure of campgrounds is necessary to avoid the transmission of plague to people through the bites of infected fleas, Fielding added. The plague is infamous for causing the bubonic plague in Europe during the Middle Ages and causing the death of millions of people.

Fielding reminded anyone who plans to visit the three campgrounds should avoid feeding wild animals and littering. Pet owners should also keep the flea collars to their animals and must stop their pets from going to areas apparently exposed to flea, the newspaper reported.

Visitors who would find dead ground squirrels were asked to call the LA County Department of Public Health, Vector Management Program at (626) 430-5450.

Although health experts said plague-carrying squirrels are common in the San Gabriel Mountains, it is actually rare in the Los Angeles County. Only four cases of Los Angeles County plague infestation among residents, all of which are non-fatal, were reported since 1984, Fielding told the Daily Bulletin.

Centers for Disease Control Prevention said enlarged lymph glands near the flea bite, fever and chills are among the signs for plague infection which can be treated with antibiotics, the newspaper reported. However, bubonic plague can also lead to pneumonic plague, a fatal disease which CDC said has an 11 percent fatality rate.

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