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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Plague (Human) in the US (California, Yosemite National Park)

20 Aug 2015

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reported a suspected human case of plague in a holidaymaker who stayed in Yosemite National Park; the individual had also visited the Sierra National Forest and surrounding areas in California. If confirmed, this will be the second human case of plague to be associated with Yosemite National Park in recent weeks.

Plague has been confirmed in wild rodents in recents weeks at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows campsites in Yosemite, however, the risk to human health is low. As a precaution, action was taken to protect human and wildlife health by closing and treating the campgrounds. Visitors to Yosemite are being informed of camp treatments, possible plague risks and prevention of disease transmission.

Plague is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. Flea treatment has now reduced the risk of plague transmission at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows Campsites in Yosemite National Park.

( Via California Department of Public Health - accessed 20/08/15)

Advice for Travellers

The California Department of Public Health has issued the following advice for visitors to Yosemite National Park: steps the public can take to reduce exposure to human plague include:

  • Never feed squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents and never touch sick or dead rodents.
  • Avoid walking or camping near rodent burrows.
  • Wear long pants tucked into socks or boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas.
  • Spray insect repellent containing DEET on skin and clothing, especially socks and pant cuffs to reduce exposure to fleas.
  • Keep wild rodents out of homes, trailers, and outbuildings and away from pets.

Early symptoms of plague may include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck, armpit or groin. Travellers who develop these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention and notify their health care provider that they have been camping or out in the wilderness and have been exposed to rodents and fleas.