Health authorities confirmed on Friday, Aug. 7 that a girl from California has been diagnosed with the plague. According to the officials, this case is the latest addition to several similar infections that occurred this year in the Western part of the United States.
The girl was said to have visited the Stanislaus National Forest located outside the park and then camped at the Yosemite's Crane Flat campground in July 2015, the authorities reported on Thursday, Aug. 6. She then became ill and was admitted to the hospital. According to Dr. Karen Smith, the state health officer, the child whose identity and age were not disclosed is currently recuperating.
In Pueblo, Colorado, heath authorities declared that an adult in the area has died from the plague a day before the news of the California girl infection came about. The Colorado fatality is the second death in the state for 2015. The first case of mortality in 2015 due to the plague in Colorado was a teenager. In 2014, a total of four people became ill due to contact with an infected dog, authorities said.
The California girl's infection is the first human case detected in the area since 2006, says Smith. The officials of the public health department will be conducting investigations in the Yosemite and Stanislaus National Forest so as to identify the source of the infectious disease, she adds.
"Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents," she advised. The public are asked to never feed chipmunks, squirrels and other rodents while on a picnic trip or when camping in the wild. Smith also advised everyone to never come in contact with such sick or dead animals.
Preventive measures that experts advocate include preventing from walking, camping or going on a trip near the burrows of the rodents, donning long pants that are tucked in boots during a hike and applying insect repellent that has diethyltoluamide or DEET as an ingredient to socks and pants so as to avoid getting flea bites.
The plague is caused by rodents and the fleas that live on it. Another disease called the hantavirus, which is also caused by rodents struck nine individuals in 2012, resulting in three fatalities. The said virus was due to dust from mouse discharges that came in contact with tent cabins located at the Curry Village of the park. When the droppings mix with dust in the air, humans can inhale the hantavirus, particularly if the area is cramp and poorly ventilated.
Photo: Esther Lee | Flickr