Squirrel Tests Positive For Bubonic Plague in Riverside County

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012  |  Updated 10:51 AM PDT
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Bubonic Plague Found in SoCal Squirrel

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A ground squirrel, similar to this one, tested positive for bubonic plague in Riverside County, health officials say.

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Bubonic plague has been found in a ground squirrel netted at a campground in the San Jacinto Mountains, prompting Riverside County health officials on Tuesday to warn campers to take precautions against the flea-spread bacteria.

"We don't want to incite panic. We just want everybody to be educated," county Department of Environmental Health spokeswoman Dottie Merki told City News Service.

The ground squirrel tested positive for the first reported case of bubonic plague in Southern California in nearly a decade, according to KPCC. The last human cases of infection were reported in April 2006 in LA County and June 2006 in Inyo County.

Though the animal tested positive for bubonic plague, it showed no symptoms of the bacterial disease, which naturally occurs in many parts of California, the radio station reported.

Symptoms of bubonic plague include swollen lymph glands, fever, headache, chills, and weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In extreme cases it can cause death.

Bubonic plague is only spread via a bite from an infected flea, and cannot spread from person to person.

More information:

City News Service contributed to this report.

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