Officials from the California Department of Public Health have warned that a child has been diagnosed with an infectious plague while camping in Yosemite Park with relatives. The case is the first of its kind in over a decade within California’s borders, although a squirrel was identified to carry the plague in 2013.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the child spent time camping with family members within Yosemite National Park, at the Crane Flat Campground. Although no source of the infection has been found, according to ABC 30, it is believed the infectious plague was contracted through contact with a squirrel. However, other animals are known to carry the plague and pass it on to humans, such as chipmunks, rats, mice, and the fleas that travel upon them.
Officials are scurrying to find the source of the plague infection, worried it may spread into an epidemic if not contained while the number of victims is low.
At this time, the child is the only known victim, and is expected to recover from the disease. The child is not being identified, according to CBS News. No other members of the child’s family have shown signs of infection at this time, although they are being monitored closely.
The last case of a human being infected with the plague occurred in 2005/2006. Treatment with antibiotics is typically successful in curing the patient of the disease. Most cases of the plague in the United States occur when a human comes into contact with an animal that is infected with the plague. The last known case of a human contracting the plague from another human occurred back in 1924.
Although the plague is easily treated with modern antibiotics, two residents of Colorado have died from the plague this year, the soonest occurring only earlier this week. Officials warn anyone with symptoms of the plague should contact a physician immediately to begin treatment. Symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, high fever, chills, and nausea.
The CDPH warns that, although treatment is possible, humans should avoid contact with animals that can carry the infectious plague.
“Human cases of plague are rare, with the last reported human infection in California occurring in 2006. Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents. 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.”
[Photo by Richard Heathcote / Getty Images]