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Yosemite National Park is the third most visited park in the United States. (Photo: Getty Images)
Officials in California announced on Tuesday that another person who camped at Yosemite National Park has fallen ill with what is presumed to be the plague. This is the second case this month of a person contracting the plague after visiting the park.
The unidentified patient, who is from Georgia, vacationed in Yosemite, the Sierra National Forest, and nearby areas before becoming ill. No other details are available.
Officials said in a press release that the plague has been confirmed in wild rodents over the past two weeks at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds in Yosemite, but stress that the risk to humans of contracting the plague is “low.” However, the campgrounds have been closed and are being treated with deltamethrin, a chemical that kills fleas that spread the plague, “out of an abundance of caution.”
The news is similar to an announcement from California officials earlier this month that said a child camping in Yosemite National Park fell ill with plague and was sent to a hospital.
The child’s family, from Los Angeles County, camped at Yosemite’s Crane Flat Campground in mid-July and visited other places in the Stanislaus National Forest. No other family members have been sickened, and the child is said to be recovering.
Yosemite contains 13 camp grounds, which with about 4 million visitors is the third most visited U.S. national park.
This is the fourth case of plague in the American West this year; there have also been two plague-related deaths in Colorado.
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One adult died in early August after contracting the plague from an unknown source. The Pueblo City-County Health Department has not revealed his or her identity but said the person may have developed the disease after coming into contact with fleas on a dead rodent or other animal. The department also noted that a dead prairie dog in the western part of the county tested positive for the disease.
In June, a Colorado teenager died just days after coming down with flulike symptoms caused by the plague.
Taylor Thomas Gaes was a promising athlete who was killed by septicemic plague, a rare form of the bacterial infection that he was thought to have contracted from a flea bite, the Denver Post reports.
This isn’t the first time the plague has been reported in Colorado recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information in May about four people in the state who contracted the plague last year from a dog. (All four survived.)
An average of seven cases of the plague occur in the U.S. each year, the CDC reports. They’re typically seasonal as well, with most cases occurring between late spring and early fall.
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of plague a person contracts. But a high fever is present in nearly all cases, as well as flulike symptoms. People with pneumonic plague may also develop a bloody cough, and those who contract bubonic plague usually experience painful, swollen lymph nodes.
The plague is serious — if left untreated, it can have a death rate of 50 percent or higher.
The FDA approved the drug Levaquin in 2012 to treat the plague, joining other antibacterial drugs, such as streptomycin, doxycycline, and tetracycline, that are approved for the treatment of the infection. A vaccine for the plague is also in the works, according to the CDC, but nothing is expected to be available to the public in the near future.
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