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Los Angeles Squirrel Tests Positive for Plague

A Los Angeles area squirrel tests positive for plague.  The Los Angeles County Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding has reported that the Los Alamos Campground within the Angeles National Forest has been shut down after a captured squirrel tested postitive for the plague.  The campground will remain closed for another ten days while workers dust all squirrel burrows for fleas and officials perform other tests.   

In most urban and forested settings, the Gammaproteobacteria Y. Pestis is commonly found on rodents and spread with fleas.  Every infected animal has the potential to transmit the infection through skin to skin contact.  Humans can then further the spread of infection through coughing, sneezing, or direct contact.  The World Health Organization reports that thousands of cases of the plague are common and with proper treatment, the prognosis for victims is generally good.  Treatment usually requires a helfty dose of antibiotics and sometimes additional lung and kidney support.

Since 1984, four cases of human infestation with the plague have been reported in Los Angeles County. 

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