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Six Plague Cases Confirmed In US This Summer, The Latest In A California Child

Plague in US

This has been a busy summer for the plague with six confirmed cases in the US, three of which were fatal.

This week, a child in California tested positive for the disease after visiting Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest. A Boulder Colorado resident also became ill – after contact with a dead chipmunk – and a resident of Pueblo County died from plague, reports Forbes.

The child from Los Angles is the first reported case of plague in California since 2006.

CBS reports that health officials continue to monitor the child’s family and healthcare providers, but no one else is showing symptoms. Officials are conducting an environmental evaluation in both the Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest and their surrounding areas.

According to California Department of Public Heath spokesperson Anita Gore, the child is recovering.

Plague is an infectious bacterial disease carried by chipmunks, squirrels, and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, the fleas can carry the plague to other animals and even humans.

“Each year, a median of eight cases occurs here in the U.S.,” Judy Stone, contributor to Forbes, writes.

Each year, a median of eight cases occurs here in the U.S., mostly in the Southwest U.S., New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California, though scattered throughout the West. It’s surprising there aren’t more cases, given that the infection is widespread in rodents in those areas.

A person who is infected with the illness will present symptoms 2-6 days after exposure similar to the flu: fever, chills, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and sometimes pneumonia. The plague can be treated with antibiotics when caught early, but without quick treatment, it can result in serious illness, even death.

In March, scientists discovered that New York City rats were hosting the Oriental rat flea, a common carrier of the bubonic plague. There were no rats found to be carrying the disease at the time.

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