Los Angeles County health officials confirmed this week that a trapped ground squirrel tested positive for plague, and as a precaution parts of the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood have been closed.
The areas closed, since 1 p.m. Wednesday, include the Twisted Arrow, Broken Blade and Pima Loops of the Table Mountain campgrounds.
The areas will be closed for at least a week, according to a health advisory from the county Department of Public Health.
"Plague is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, which is why we close affected campgrounds and recreational areas as a precaution while preventive measures are taken to control the flea population," Jonathan E. Fielding, head of the health department, said in the advisory.
"It is important for the public to know that there have only been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County residents since 1984, none of which were fatal," he said.
The ground squirrel population in the San Gabriel Mountains has been known to have the plague, and officials said squirrel burrows in the affected area will be dusted for fleas.
Officials also advised those visiting areas nearby the Broken Blade, Twisted Arrow and Pima Loops to take precautions, such as not feeding wild animals and preventing pets from getting fleas.Plague in North America is thanks to imported cases arriving in San Francisco around 1900. On the positive side, the outbreak led to the development of modern public health; on the negative side, hysterical racist responses to the unfortunate Chinese victims led to victims sneaking out of the city—and thereby spreading it to rats that passed it along to native rodents like squirrels.
I highly recommend The Barbary Plague, a history of the event.