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Tuolumne Meadows campground closes temporarily because of plague!

Tuolumne Meadows

On Friday, Yosemite National Park officials ordered the closure of the Tuolumne Meadows campground for this coming week after two squirrels were found that had died of plague.

Tuolumne Meadows Campground will close from noon Monday through noon Friday so authorities can treat the area with a flea-killing insecticide. Campers had their reservations canceled at the 304-site campground so the insecticide can be sprayed into rodent “burrow holes,” the California Department of Health said Friday.

Plague is carried by rodents and is spread by fleas, but transmission between people is rare.

“Although this is a rare disease, and the current risk to humans is low, eliminating the fleas is the best way to protect the public from the disease,” said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the state Health Department.

In mid-July, a child camping at Crane Flat Campground became ill with plague and is recovering in a hospital. No other family members became sick. The Sacramento Bee article continues:

Plague’s symptoms can include fever, chills, weakness, abdominal pain, and sometimes shortness of breath and swollen lymph nodes. It can be treated and cured when antibiotics are given soon after infection, but it’s deadly when treatment is delayed.

The last three cases of human plague in the state occurred in 2005 and 2006, the Health Department said. All three of those patients survived.

In 2012, there was a Hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite that included Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley. Hantavirus, like bubonic plague, is carried by some rodents, but plague is bacterial (Yersinia pestis), not viral. Testing this year found no Hantavirus in Yosemite Valley, but some deer mice in the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge area tested positive for the virus.

“In the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge area, eight of 65 (12.3 percent) mice tested positive for SNV antibodies in 2014. For comparison, the prevalence of SNV antibodies in deer mice sampled from 42 counties in California from 2004-2013 was 11.6 percent.”

Be careful out there!

-Bill at

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