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Plague risk closes down campground

A plague scare shut down the 149-site campground and day- use area at Donner Memorial State Park at least until the end of the week.

The park museum is still open.

Campers were notified Tuesday of the possibility of exposure to plague after a park employee1s cat came down with plague-like symptoms. Campers had to vacate by this morning.



“There’s also been a rodent die-off of two squirrels,” said Norm Greenberg, Nevada County director of environmental health.

It will be the end of the week before officials receive test results to see if the squirrels or cat actually carry plague, a highly infectious bacterial disease.




If there’s no plague, the park’s campground and day-use facilities would reopen.

People can catch plague from sick animals through flea bites, direct contact or pneumonia – the deadliest form of plague – through sneezing from a sick pet.

In a campground setting, the potential for plague spreading to humans is significant, Greenberg said.

Known as the Black Death in the 14th century, plague claimed tens of thousands of lives in Europe. Untreated, bubonic plague (symptoms include swollen and tender lymph nodes called “buboes”) is 50 percent fatal, Greenberg said.

The pneumonia form of plague, a lung infection, must be treated within 24 hours. Otherwise, it1s almost 100 percent fatal, Greenberg said.

Plague exists in much of California, except the Central Valley, the southeastern desert region and some parts of the coast.


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