Los Angeles Child Catches Plague – Deadly Disease Spreading?


California officials are scrambling to investigate a child who contracted the plague after visiting central California’s Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park.  Does this mean the deadly disease has done what those in the medical and infectious disease worlds call “jumped” – both from animal to human, and now from state to state?

Just a few days ago, YourNewsWire reported on cases of the plague found in Colorado, leaving one person dead.  What is going on?  A press release from The California Department of Public Health says that officials are inspecting the parks in an attempt to find out the source of the disease spreading. reports:

The plague, which typically affects rodents such as prairie dogs and squirrels, can sometimes be passed to humans by carrier fleas or household pets that have come into contact with a sick or dead rodent, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In California, the most recent cases of the the disease were reported in 2005 and 2006. There have been a total of 42 cases in California since 1970. Public Health Director and State Health Officer Karen Smith told the Los Angeles Times that the plague could be fatal if left untreated.

Plague Used To Be Rare

“Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents,” Smith said in the release. “Never feed squirrels, chipmunks, or other rodents in picnic or campground areas, and never touch sick or dead rodents. Protect your pets from fleas and keep them away from wild animals.”

At Yosemite, park employees will offer visitors advice on reducing their risk of contact. Those reporting fever, chills, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, or other symptoms are urged to seek medical care right away and to take notes of where they were camping.


Royce Christyn
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