Yosemite National Park is increasing efforts to monitor and suppress bubonic plague after a child who visited the Park in July contracted plague. The child has since recovered due to early diagnosis and treatment. The National Park Services has posted an FAQ website to address questions about plague.
Bubonic plague has been endemic in the rodent population of the western US for over a century. Public health officials are monitoring the area and testing dead rodents. Dead squirrels infected with plague have been found at two campsites. The Crane Flat Campground was closed to camping while burrows of rodents near the campground were treated for fleas. Fleas can spread plague throughout the rodent population and transmit the plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis. The Crane campground has reopened, but the Tuolumne Meadows Campground will close today after dead squirrels with plague were found. That campsite will be treated for fleas before it reopens. Other measures to prevent contact between rodents and food have been taken.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been working with the CDC to provide information on proper precautions. They recommend the following steps the public can take to avoid exposure to human plague:
• 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.