Plague in California

Child contracts plague in Yosemite National Park

After visiting Stanislaus National Forest and camping at Yosemite National Park in mid-July, a child from Los Angeles became ill with the plague and is now recovering and being monitored by state health officials.

“Human cases of plague are rare, with the last reported human infection in California occurring in 2006,” said California State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith in a press release from the California Department of Public Health.

In California, the disease is carried by fleas on chipmunks, squirrels and other wild rodents, mostly in the foothills and mountain areas. People are advised to never feed the wildlife and to take precautions to keep fleas off themselves and their pets. Park visitors should steer clear of rodent burrows when setting up camp and while walking and hiking.

If caught early, plague is treatable. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. There have been 42 cases of humans contracting plague in California since 1970. Nine were fatal.