2nd person contracts plague after visiting Yosemite
LOS ANGELES — Before this year, the last time a human case of plague was reported in the Yosemite Valley was in 1959.
Now, the California Department of Public Health is investigating a second case of plague it believes was contracted by a Georgia native during a recent visit to Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles Times reported. It comes nearly two weeks after health officials announced a child had contracted it while visiting the park with family in mid-July.
The health department has contacted the park, the National Forest Service and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to examine areas where the person from Georgia visited.
Despite its reputation as a mass killer of humans throughout history, plague — which wiped out about 30% of the European population in the 1300s — has become a vastly more reliable killer of wildlife than people. It nearly eradicated the black-footed ferret and prairie dogs in the U.S.
Modern medicine has mostly eliminated the threat to humans from plague, said Dr. Danielle Buttke, epidemiologist for the National Park Service.
In California, there have been 42 human cases of plague since 1970, and nine were fatal.
Health officials are warning the public about the risk of the infectious disease spread by fleas.
“The California Department of Public Health and Yosemite National Park were very proactive in their campaign to educate visitors about plague,” Dr. Karen Smith, director of the state health department, said in a statement. “Warnings issued in California regarding plague were useful all the way across the country in Georgia. Those warnings helped the patient get the prompt medical attention necessary to recover from this illness.”
After evidence of the plague was discovered, health officials closed two park campgrounds in Yosemite National Park.
The infected child, who lives in Los Angeles County, was camping with family at the Crane Flat Campground. The campground was closed for four days and reopened Friday.