sign yosemite National Park California
A sign on the edge of Yosemite National Park, Calif., is surrounded by a burn from the Rim Fire on August 23, 2013.  Max Whittaker—Reuters

Child Contracts the Plague After Trip to Yosemite National Park

Aug 06, 2015

Public Health officials in California are investigating a case of the plague contracted by a child who had recently camped at Yosemite National Park. News of the investigation comes in the wake of reports of the recent death of a Colorado resident who had contracted the rare disease; that case marked the second plague death in Colorado this year.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the child—whose age, gender, ethnicity have not been released—got sick after camping at Yosemite's Crane Flat Campground in mid-July. The child was hospitalized shortly after and is currently recovering. No one else that the child was camping with has reported being sick.

Public health officials say the last time a human case of the plague—it's often found in fleas and rodents—was reported was in 2006. As a precaution, officials are warning residents to protect themselves from bugs using repellant containing DEET and to avoid feeding live, wild rodents and touching dead ones.

“Never feed squirrels, chipmunks, or other rodents in picnic or campground areas, and never touch sick or dead rodents. Protect your pets from fleas and keep them away from wild animals,” said Dr. Karen Smith, the director of the California Department of Health, in a statement.

Symptoms of the plague include high fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. When caught in the early stages, plague is treatable by antibiotics. Without treatment, the disease can kill.

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