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Squirrel On Palomar Mountain Tests Positive For Plague

A ground squirrel trapped during routine monitoring at the Cedar Grove Campground on Palomar Mountain tested positive for plague, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health reported today.

No plague-infected rodents were discovered in the county last year, according to the DEH.

Plague is a bacterial disease carried by wild rodents that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of infected fleas, according to the DEH.

The agency placed warning signs in the area so visitors could take precautions to avoid flea contact.

"It is not unusual to find plague in our local mountains in the summer months, so campers should always avoid contact with squirrels and their fleas,'' said DEH Director Jack Miller. "Set up tents away from squirrel burrows, do not feed the squirrels and warn your children not to play with squirrels.''

The agency also advises avoiding contact with wild animals, particularly ground squirrels and chipmunks; not touching sick or dead animals; and keeping pets on a leash or leaving them at home.

Someone who becomes ill within one week of visiting an area known to have plague should contact a doctor immediately, according to the DEH. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, chills and tender, swollen lymph nodes.

The agency said there have never been any known human cases of plague contracted here.

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