Second Yosemite National Park visitor diagnosed with plague
A second person to visit California’s Yosemite National Park has been diagnosed with the plague, the latest of several such infections in the Western United States this year, health officials said on Tuesday.
The traveler from Georgia spent time vacationing in Yosemite, the Sierra National Forest and other nearby areas earlier this month before coming down with a presumptive positive case of the disease, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still performing confirmatory testing, the statement said.
The news comes just days after a Los Angeles county child became ill and was hospitalized with the disease, carried by rodents and the fleas that live on them, after visiting the Stanislaus National Forest outside the park and then camping at Yosemite’s Crane Flat campground last month.
Officials said the child’s case was the first in humans in the state since 2006, though the news came just a day after officials in Pueblo, Colorado, said a local adult had died from the plague.
Earlier this year, a Colorado teen also died from the centuries-old scourge, and last year four people in the state were sickened after coming into contact with an infected dog, officials said.
Two Yosemite campgrounds were shut down after the plague was found in wild rodents over the past two weeks, though the health department said that the risk to humans was low.
Officials have urged park visitors to avoid walking or camping near rodent burrows, to wear long pants tucked into boots when hiking and to spray insect repellent containing the chemical diethyltoluamide, or DEET, on socks and pant legs to reduce the risk of flea bites.
Early symptoms of plague include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin, according to the health department.