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Plague-infected squirrels found at Yosemite National Park campground

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About a week ago, officials said a child fell ill with the plague at Yosemite National Park. Now a popular campground there will be closed after several squirrels were killed by the disease.

The plague-infected squirrels were found in the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, about 40 miles west of Crane Flat Campground, where the child was camping with family.

In an “extremely precautionary public health measure,” park officials will apply flea insecticide to rodent burrows. As a result they are closing the campground from noon Monday to noon Friday, Aug. 21.

The infectious disease is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents via fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, its fleas can carry the disease to other animals and humans.

The child, who lives in Los Angeles County, has recovered.

The child contracted the disease in mid-July during a family trip to Stanislaus National Forest and the campground at Yosemite.

The Crane Flat Campground reopened Friday after it was closed for four nights for flea treatments, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“Although the presence of plague has been confirmed at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds, the risk to human health remains low,” the health department said.

An environmental evaluation in the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and surrounding area prompted the closures, the health department said.

In 2014, evidence of plague was detected in animals in El Dorado, Mariposa, Modoc, Plumas, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Sierra counties. Animal infected with the disease usually are found in the foothills, mountains and sometimes along the coast of California.

In California, there have been 42 human cases of plague since 1970. Nine were fatal.

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

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