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Ground squirrel testing positive for plague causes health officials to warn campers and hikers

 

Last updated 5/10/2013 at Noon



SAN DIEGO - A ground squirrel that tested positive for plague on Palomar Mountain has led County health officials to warn campers and hikers to take precautions.

''The big thing is to avoid contact with squirrels and the fleas that they can carry,'' Department of Environmental Health director Jack Miller said. ''Campers should set up tents away from squirrel burrows, and hikers and campers should never feed squirrels and warn their children not to play with squirrels.''

A squirrel trapped at Cedar Grove Campground on Palomar Mountain was the first reported case of plague in San Diego County this year.

Plague is a bacterial disease of wild rodents that can be transmitted to people by fleas that feed on the blood of a sick animal and then bite humans.

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

Squirrel trapped at Palomar Mountain tests positive for the plague

SAN DIEGO - A ground squirrel trapped recently at the Cedar Grove Campground on Palomar Mountain tested positive for the plague, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health announced today.

Campers and hikers should take precautions, according to the DEH.

It's the first positive plague test this year, but it's not an unusual finding as the weather warms up, DEH Director Jack Miller said.

''The big thing is to avoid contact with squirrels and the fleas that they can carry,'' Miller said. ''Campers should set up tents away from squirrel burrows, and hikers and campers should never feed squirrels and warn their children not to play with squirrels.''

The agency listed several precautions that campers and hikers should take:

-- avoid contact with ground squirrels, chipmunks, and other wild animals;

-- do not feed, touch or handle wild animals;

-- do not rest, camp or sleep near animal burrows in the ground;

-- protect pets by keeping them on a leash, use flea control, leave pets at home; and

-- do not touch sick or dead animals.

Plague is a bacterial disease that infects wild rodents, but it can be transmitted to people by fleas that feed on the blood of sick animals and then bite humans.

Symptoms of the disease in people include a sudden onset of fever, chills and tender and swollen lymph nodes. Miller said people who become sick within one week of visiting a known plague area should contact their doctor immediately.

The DEH said plague warning signs are posted in areas where the disease has been confirmed. Visitors, hikers and campers in rural mountain areas should look for the signs and follow precautions to prevent contact with fleas.

 

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