The Sonora Pass at Stanislaus National Forest. Photo by Jerry Snyder
The Sonora Pass at Stanislaus National Forest. Photo by Jerry Snyder

A Los Angeles County child contracted plague after visiting Stanislaus National Forest and camping in Yosemite National Park, state health officials announced Thursday, saying it’s the first human case in California since 2006.

The child is recovering.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the child was hospitalized after the camping trip in mid-July. No other members of the camping party reported any symptoms, but health officials are monitoring the child’s family, officials said.

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

Plagues is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent dies, its fleas can transfer the infection to other animals and humans, health officials said.

State officials said they are working with the county Department of Public Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with officials at Yosemite National Park, to determine the source of the infection. They are also investigating the patient’s travel history.

Yosemite National Park officials plan to provide additional information to visitors on ways to avoid exposure.

Early symptoms of plague include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit and groin. Plague is treatable in its early stages with proper antibiotic treatment. It can be fatal if left untreated, health officials said.

—City News Service

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