Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bubonic plague found in squirrels on Palomar Mountain

Three ground squirrels found at Palomar Mountain campgrounds have tested positive for plague, a deadly bacterial infection that wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages, San Diego County officials said Wednesday.

Plague infections are now rare among humans, but at least a few squirrels in higher elevations around Palomar Mountain or Julian are found during routine testing each year, said Chris Conlan, supervising vector ecologist for the San Diego County Vector Control program.

The county posts plague warning signs in areas where the disease is found, officials said.

There has never been a recorded human plague infection in San Diego County, although there have been several in California, officials said. Fewer than 100 cases were reported over the last decade in the U.S., mostly in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two of the infected squirrels found recently were in the Cedar Grove Campground, according to a county statement. The third was trapped at the Doane Campground. Read More