A Los Angeles child who camped at Yosemite National Park’s Crane Flat Campground and visited the Stanislaus National Forest was diagnosed with plague, the state Department of Public Health announced on Thursday. The infectious bacterial disease is generally found in the Sierra Nevada, though just last year a coyote caught by the USDA in Goleta — it had been hunting livestock — tested positive for plague, county Vector Control’s David Chang told The Santa Barbara Independent. No one was infected in that case, and the child from Los Angeles has been hospitalized and is expected to recover. Colorado, however, recently announced its second death this year from the disease.
Though plague is rarely contracted by humans — the last case in California was in 2006 — the state agency inspects campgrounds annually, including ones in Santa Barbara County. The disease is most commonly transmitted to humans by the fleas of infected rodents, and symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, and weakness. Campers and hikers are advised to avoid feeding squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents; stay away from dead ones and burrows — and to keep their dogs away; and spray socks and pant cuffs with insect repellent containing DEET.