Yosemite campsite closed after plague found in squirrels

A popular campsite at Yosemite National Park has temporarily closed after two squirrels died from the plague.

The Tuolumme Meadows Campground will be closed for the entire week while officials ensure that the campground is safe for humans. Officials are spraying flea-killing insecticide in rodent burrow holes to prevent the spread of the disease. Rodents such as squirrels and chipmunks can contract the plague from fleas.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first case of the plague at Yosemite this summer.

A young child is recovering in the hospital after he contracted the disease while staying at the Crane Flat Campground in the park and then visiting the nearby Stanislaus National Park.

According to Karen Smith, the director and state health officer with the California Department of Public Health, human cases of the plague are uncommon with the last reported human case of the plague in California reported in 2006.

“Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents,” Smith said in an official statement. “Never feed squirrels, chipmunks, or other rodents in picnic or campground areas, and never touch sick or dead rodents.”

Smith also says that it’s important to protect your pets from fleas and keep them safe from wild animals.

Symptoms of the plague include chills, nausea, high fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin.

The last case of a human contracting the plague in Canada was in 1939.