Two dead squirrels, one shuttered campground in the heart of Yosemite National Park, and one devastating disease — the plague.
Less than two weeks after announcing that a child who camped at Yosemite’s Crane Flat Campground had the plague, the park said this week Tuolumne Meadows Campground was closing because of the same disease.
This time, though, there is no indication that any humans got sick there. But authorities determined that two squirrels at Tuolumne Meadows had died of the plague, prompting the closure.
The campground will be closed from Monday through Friday. It is one of 13 around Yosemite, which with about 4 million visitors is the third most visited U.S. national park.
Staff will treat the Tuolumne Meadows site with deltamethrin, a chemical that kills fleas that spread the plague, according to the park.
The first Yosemite campground to get the once over was Crane Flat, which is where a child — after visiting nearby Stanislaus National Forest — had stayed in mid-July. In that case, an insecticide that contained deltamethrin was used on rodent burrows on August 10 and 11.
That child is recovering from the plague, and no other members of the camping party have reported any related symptoms, according to authorities.
2 Humans with Plague Die in Colorado
The plague is one of the most devastating diseases in the history of humankind, wiping out millions of people centuries ago.
Medicine has come a long way since then, with antibiotics and antimicrobial medicines among the tools to aid those with the plague. But the disease hasn’t entirely gone away.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the United States has about seven annual cases, over 80 percent of which have been in the bubonic form.
There have been three human cases reported so far in 2015, which is in line with those numbers. The other two happened in Colorado and both resulted in deaths, one a teenager in Larimer County and the other an adult in Pueblo County, as announced Wednesday by the local health department.
The Yosemite case is California’s first instance of human plague since 2006, when there were three cases in Mono, Los Angeles and Kern counties, according to state health officer Dr. Karen Smith. There have been 42 cases in the state since 1970, of which nine proved fatal.
“Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents,” Smith said.