YOSEMITE – Public health officials and Yosemite National Park staff successfully dusted rodent burrows in the Tuolumne Meadows Campground yesterday with the insecticide deltamethrin (DeltaDust), say park officials, after a case of human plague was identified last month.
The California Department of Public Health began investigating a case of human plague after a child from Los Angeles County became ill and was hospitalized after visiting the Stanislaus National Forest and camping at Crane Flat Campground in Yosemite National Park in mid-July.
No other members of the camping party reported symptoms and health officials are continuing to monitor the child’s family and treatment providers. The child is recovering.
“Deltamethrin was used to treat rodent burrows in the campground to reduce the risk to people and wildlife from fleas that may carry the plague bacteria,” said Don Neubacher in a notice to park employees. “It is commonly used on pets and livestock to control fleas and ticks, as well as on clothing and lawns to kill mosquitoes and ticks.”
Park officials hope to re-open Tuolumne Meadows Campground on Friday, Aug. 21, as planned, and will do follow-up surveillance today and Wednesday.
Plague is an infectious bacterial disease that is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, its fleas can carry the infection to other warm-blooded animals or humans.
Although cases of human plague are very rare, everyone is urged to be diligent in helping to reduce the risk of exposure to plague.
Steps to take to avoid exposure to human plague include:
– Never feed squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents and never touch a sick or dead rodent
– Avoid walking or camping near rodent burrows
– Do not pitch your tent or prepare food near rodent burrows
– Wear long pants tucked into socks or boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas
– Spray insect repellent containing DEET on socks and pant cuffs to reduce exposure to fleas
– Keep wild rodents out of homes, trailers, and outbuildings and away from pets