Plague found in San Bernardino National Forest
Last updated 6/29/2016 at 5:30am
Public health officials are warning residents that squirrels at two local campgrounds have tested positive for the plague.
According to the Riverside County Environmental Heath Department, ground squirrels from both the Dark Canyon and Marion Mountain campgrounds recently tested "antibody-positive" for plague. Dark Canyon is located eight miles north of Idyllwild, and Marion Mountain approximately a mile from there, both are in the San Bernardino National Forest.
"The tests on squirrels from Dark Canyon Campground and Marion Mountain Campground were conducted on June 8 and June 13, respectively," the health department said in a news release Tuesday. "The antibody-positive test means the squirrels had been exposed to the disease sometime in the past."
Although the plague is rare, according to officials, the bacterial disease can be transmitted through the bite of infected rodent fleas.
"Follow-up rodent surveillance and an environmental assessment of the two campgrounds will be conducted this week," officials said. "Risk to the public is currently considered to be low and campgrounds will remain open during follow-up investigations."
Though risk is considered low for humans at this time, the Los Angeles health department has warned in the past that "humans and their pets (dogs, and especially cats) can get plague if they visit or live in areas where wild rodents are naturally infected."