Wild rodents, such as mice and ground squirrels transmit plague, through the bite of infected fleas. Be aware when you pick up even a dead ground squirrel. If an infected flea bites you, you could end up with enlarged lymph glands near the bite area and quickly get a fever or chills. Get treatment right away, or it could possibly infect your blood and lungs.
In July 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that a ground squirrel captured in the Los Alamos Campground in the Angeles National Forest, tested positive for plague. The campground was closed for 10 days by Los Angeles County Public Health and U.S. Forest Service officials and squirrel burrows in the area were dusted for fleas.
According to the Vertebrate Pest Control Handbook – Mammals, it is thought that over the last 40 years, ground squirrels were the hosts to plague-infected fleas in over half the reported human cases of plague in California. Ground Squirrels can also spread a list of diseases that most of us have heard of thanks to the TV show, House: tularemia, rat bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Chagas’ disease, adiospiromycosis and encephalomycarditis. Visit the Center for Disease Control website for more information on diseases spread by rodents: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/diseases/direct.html#plague.
All of this talk of the bubonic plague and other diseases spread by ground squirrels, is not to scare you. I believe that knowledge is power. Remember, ground squirrels are wild animals and they can bite and carry disease. To be safe, do not feed them and if you have to handle them, use caution. If you discover large numbers of dead squirrels or other rodents and there is no apparent reason, notify public health officials. Do not handle dead squirrels under these circumstances.
Also, use flea protection on your dogs and cats and get your ground squirrel population under control. Of course, I recommend the Burrow Blocker. :)