A ground squirrel trapped in routine monitoring at the Cedar Grove Campground on Palomar Mountain tested positive for plague, San Diego County Vector Control officials said Friday.
County environmental health officials said it is common to find the bacteria that causes plague in the local mountains, but hikers and campers can protect themselves by taking some simple actions — particularly by avoiding contact with squirrels, chipmunks and other animals in the wild.
Plague is a bacterial disease of wild rodents, but it can be spread to humans by fleas if they feed on an infected animal and then bite people.
The county is conducting flea control measures, and plague warning signs are posted. Hikers and campers in rural mountain areas should always look for plague warning signs and take simple steps to avoid coming into contact with disease-carrying fleas.
Hunters can also get infected if they handle tissue or body fluids of infected animals.
Among the county’s other suggested safety steps:
— do not feed, touch or handle wild animals;
— do not rest, camp or sleep near animal burrows in the ground;
— do not touch sick or dead animals; and
— contact a physician immediately if you become sick within a week of visiting an area known to have plague.
Pets should be protected by keeping them on a leash, by using flea controls, or leaving them at home.
More information is on the county’s Vector Control website at sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/deh/pests/vector_disease.html.