Plague Hits California: Third Case in Western U.S.

Rats (Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty)
Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty
San Diego, CA

Human Plague has stricken a California child after a visit to Yosemite National park in July. The child was hospitalized and is recovering.

None of the other campers that visited the park with the child has come down with the illness. The specific source of the child’s infection is yet unknown. The child from from Los Angeles is believed to be the third case of plague in the western United States this year.




Danielle Buttke of the National Park Service tells park goers, “The most important thing to do is wear insect repellant, don’t disturb or camp near or around rodent boroughs, and be sure if you do become ill with a fever, a swollen lymph node, or sight of an insect bite within two to six days after visiting a wild area you should go to your doctor,” according to Capital Public Radio.

Two cases of plague that resulted in death appeared in Colorado. In June the Denver Post reported on the septicemic plague death of a Larimer County, Colorado high school athlete. 16-year-old Taylor Thomas Gaes was in “suberb health” just one week before his death, according to his high school’s baseball coach. A Larimer County Health Department spokesperson said Gaes showed flu-like symptoms and died four days later. On Wednesday, the Pueblo City-County Health Department announced Colorado’s second plague-related death.

To avoid contracting plague one should avoid any potential rodent habitats around the home, work or recreational areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends removing, “brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food.”

Anyone handling or skinning potentially affected animals should wear gloves, the CDC warns, as well as avoid fleas, particularly when camping or outdoors, and apply flea control products to pets.

Plague vaccines are in long-term development, but are not available in the United States now or in the immediate future, the CDC states.

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