Plague Found in Yosemite Squirrels

Popular campsite shut down

While cases in people are rare, health officials find animals with the plague every year, so the CDPH advises park visitors avoid contact with wild rodents, wear long pants for protection from fleas, and keep pets away from wild animals. (Gary/Flickr)

Officials at Yosemite National Park closed the Tuolumne Meadows Campground on Monday after two squirrels contracted and died of the plague near the area, according to the AP. The 304-site campground will be closed until noon on Friday.

Park employees will use the closure to spray flea-killing insecticide into burrow holes where rodents live. Rodents like rats, chipmunks, and squirrels carry the fleas that carry the plague. Although transmission to humans is rare, a child came down with the disease last month after camping at the park’s Crane Flat Campground. Officials also closed that camp area to treat it with insecticide, but reopened it on Friday. (The Los Angeles Times reports that the child has recovered.)

Despite the plague-positive squirrels, the risk to human health remains low, according to a statement by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). State health officer Karen Smith said that eliminating the fleas is the best way to protect people from plague. While cases in people are rare, health officials find animals with the plague every year, so the CDPH advises park visitors to avoid contact with wild rodents, wear long pants for protection from fleas, and keep pets away from wild animals.

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