Yosemite sees second case of plague

By Susan Abram, The Daily Breeze

A second visitor to Yosemite National Park has contracted the plague, state health officials said Tuesday, just a few weeks after a Los Angeles County child also tested positive for the disease.

The patient, a Georgia resident, had been vacationing in Yosemite National Park, the Sierra National Forest, and surrounding areas in early August, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Last week, health officials announced they had reopened a campground where the plague had been present, saying that they had successfully reduced the risk to public health.

“Although the presence of plague has been confirmed in wild rodents over the past two weeks at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds in Yosemite, the risk to human health remains low,” according to a statement by the state health department. “Park visitors are being notified by Yosemite of camp treatments, possible plague risks and are being provided information on how to prevent plague transmission. CDC has notified CDPH that recent communications about plague enabled health care providers in Georgia to make the diagnosis more quickly.”

The plague is transmitted through rodent flea bites and can cause the bubonic plague, the illness that swept through Europe during the Middle Ages, killing millions of people. Symptoms include enlarged lymph glands near the flea bite, fever and chills, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control Prevention.

It can be treated with antibiotics, but untreated, it can turn into pneumonic plague and can be fatal. More than 1,000 people in the United States have contracted the plague in the last century, according to the CDC.

Most recently, two people have died of the plague this year in Colorado, where there have been numerous infections. The infectious disease is more common in the West and Southwest.

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