A Los Angeles County park has been closed after a squirrel was found infected with the bubonic plague.
The plague is a bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis. It is transmitted usually to an animal or human through a flea bite. Six centuries ago, the plague was the cause of the Black Death which swept through Europe killing more than 25 million people.
In 1924-1925 Los Angeles had an epidemic of pneumonic plague but was soon placed under control with rat control and urban hygiene.
Since then the disease has moved from the cities to the countryside, finding new animal hosts.
The plague has spread through much of the Western United States and is endemic in certain animal populations.
The plague causing bacteria was recently found in a Denver city park in 2007.
Last month in China, a man died after hunting and subsequently cooking a plague-infected marmot.
Last September, a University of Chicago professor, Dr. Malcolm J. Casadaban, died after a mystery exposure to Yersinia pestis in the laboratory where the plague-causing microbe was studied.
The plague can be highly contagious. Fortunately, the bacterial infection which causes the plague can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed soon enough. However resistant strains are becoming a major concern.
LA news: http://cbs2.com/local/campground.shut.Los.2.1787742.html
Denver story: http://www.thecherrycreeknews.com/news-mainmenu-2/1-latest/1287-plague-in-denver-city-park-squirrels-infected.html
Global Times: http://china.globaltimes.cn/society/2010-06/542589.html
Chicago News Center: http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/09/uofc-researcher-dies-after-exposer-to-plague-bacteria.html
Interesting link: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.precisionliftinc.com/images/ca-gnd-sql.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.precisionliftinc.com/reconn-plague.shtml&usg=__TNi1T1NKllupDjeDuAimXk850F8=&h=173&w=200&sz=13&hl=en&start=39&sig2=SiDGaPjifgXhHTVmg1TZCg&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=gQNATwdAAnrFdM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=104&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dsquirrel%2Bplague%26start%3D20%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4ADBF_enUS273US273%26ndsp%3D20%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=h3QzTIPrL4GhsgbkjdH3Ag