California public health department investigates plague case

Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the Plague
Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the Plague | Courtesy of the CDC
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Thursday that they are investigating a case of the plague.

As a part of the investigation, the department is conducting an environmental evaluation in and around Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest.

“Human cases of plague are rare, with the last reported human infection in California occurring in 2006,” CDPH director and state health officer Dr. Karen Smith said. “Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents. 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.”

In humans, plague's early symptoms can include nausea, fever, swelling in the lymph nodes, groin and armpit. If these symptoms develop seek medical care as the disease is treatable in its early stages but can be fatal if not treated. Seek veterinary care if cats or dogs show similar symptoms.

The department reports that since 1970 there have been 42 cases of plague in humans and of these nine were
fatal. The state's last set of cases occurred between 2005 and 2006 in Mono, Los Angeles and Kern counties.

The California Department of Public Health is located at Sacramento.

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California Department of Public Health

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