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Diatribe: A Squirrel With The Plague.

07/29/2013

PlagueSquirrelSomething’s been getting into our trash cans at night.  We’ve lived in our house for twelve years and the same two trash cans have been stored in the exact some spot all along.  Nothing has ever bothered them and now, suddenly, they’ve become popular with nocturnal animals visitors.  Evidence at the crime scene indicates that the culprit is probably a raccoon.  I’ve also seen footprints that appear to have been left by a dog.  Perhaps they’re working together, to get the lid off the can and spread its contents about in the driveway.

The implementation of strategically placed bungee cords seems to have eliminated the problem for now but I’m certain that the culprit is still lurking about.  It seems to me that the mysterious critter is, basically, harmless.

The same cannot be said of at least one squirrel in California.  The squirrel, trapped July 16 in the Table Mountain Campgrounds of Angeles National Forest, has tested positive for plague.

“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.” – L.A. County health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding

Plague is caused by a microscopic germ that was blamed for wiping out sixty percent of the European population between 1348 and 1420.  It is now quite rare, with an average of seven human cases per year in the United States.  It’s also curable with antibiotics.  But, if left untreated, it can cause serious illness or even death.

The California campground has been closed while investigators test other squirrels and dust the area for plague-infected fleas.  Health officials are urging everyone in the area to avoid contact with wild animals, steer clear of squirrel burrows and report any dead squirrels to the department of health.

I’m reasonably certain that the varmint (or varmints) messing with my trash cans is not a squirrel because the squirrels in my yard are far too busy making a mess on our deck and damaging our bird feeders by knocking them to the ground.  Even still, I think they’re too cute and entertaining to run off.

I’d change my mind if I knew they were killer squirrels.

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13 Comments
  1. They are cute until they start chewing on the wiring in your walls, like our former squirrel visitor did.

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  2. Abby has been telling us about the dangers of squirrels ever since she was a puppy. Now she is giving me a superior smug look.

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  3. I was freaked out last year when a squirrel climbed into my lap while I was reading. I would have been even more freaked out if I thought I could get the plague from it. Yikes!

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  4. More proof of an impending squirrel epidemic!

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  5. Oh that’s really troubling. I wonder if they just check randomly or if they had a reason to check for squirrels for plague?

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  6. Creepy.

    I used to think that the plague was completely wiped out. Until I wrote a letter to an Indian gentleman with a stomach ache, saying “I hope whatever was plaguing you has gone,” on behalf of my brand new boss. He informed me that in the gentleman’s part of India there had recently been a plague of plague. Yikes! Who knew?!

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