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LA- area campgrounds shut down after squirrel tests positive for plague

Campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest have been shut down for at least a week after a squirrel was found there infected with plague bacteria, according to Los Angeles County health officials.

While the critters may be cute, county and U.S. Forest Service officials have cautioned there’s nothing adorable about the plague, and have ordered visitors out of sections of the Table Mountain Campgrounds in Wrightwood, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles, NBC Los Angeles reported.

The areas have been closed since 1 p.m. on Wednesday, after a single squirrel trapped on July 16 tested positive for the plague. No people are believed to have been infected by the disease, which travels to human beings through bites by infected fleas, according to a health department spokesman.

“It is important to know that there have only been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County residents since 1984, none of which were fatal,” said county director of public health Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Known as the cause for the “Black Death” that swept Europe during the Middle Ages killing millions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about seven incidences of plague are recorded a year in the U.S. Most of those reports come from western states, according to the CDC.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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