A child has contracted the plague while camping in Yosemite National Park in California. The child lives in the Los Angeles area but was visiting the Yosemite National Park in mid-July with family members. The California Department of Public Health says no other campers are ill and that a flea is the likely culprit in spreading the plague to the child.
The California Department of Public Health made a public health announcement outlining the specifics of the latest plague case noting it is the first human case of the plague in the state since 2006. Officials say that the exposure likely happened when the child was camping at Crane Flat Campground in Yosemite National Park. The child also visited the Stanislaus National Forest during that time.
After camping, the child began to feel ill and was hospitalized. Health officials determined that the child was infected with the plague but is expected to recover. Despite not having any human cases of the plague since 2006, the department has detected animal plague as recently as 2014. In that year, non-human plague activity was detected in animals in seven counties: El Dorado, Mariposa, Modoc, Plumas, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Sierra.
The announcement notes that the plague is typically carried by rodents and their fleas.
“Plague is an infectious bacterial disease that is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, its fleas can carry the infection to other warm-blooded animals or humans.”
According to IFL Science, the child most likely contracted the deadly disease from an infected flea. Fleas will bite an infected animal and once the animal dies look for another warm body. In this case, the child was likely the next warm body the flea found.
Health department officials say that though the plague is rare, campers should take proper measures to ensure they are protecting themselves from the disease. Here are some tips from the California Department of Public Health to decrease your chances of contracting the plague while camping.
- Never feed squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents and never touch sick or dead rodents
- Avoid walking, hiking or camping near rodent burrows
- Wear long pants tucked into socks or boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas
- Spray insect repellent containing DEET on socks and pant cuffs to reduce exposure to fleas
- Keep wild rodents out of homes, trailers, and outbuildings and away from pets.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the plague recently killed an adult in Colorado which was the second plague death this year.
Do you take plague-preventing steps when camping?
[Image Credit: Yosemite Campsites]