A second person has fallen ill from the plague in California on Tuesday, after visiting Yosemite National Park.
The patient was visiting the park from Georgia and fell ill shortly after arriving at the park. Officials suspect that the plague originates from nearby wild rodents and maintain that the risk of humans contracting the disease is “low”.
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This brings the official total number of plague victims in America to four.
Yahoo Health reports:
The news is similar to an announcement from California officials earlier this month that said a child camping in Yosemite National Park fell ill with plague and was sent to a hospital.
The child’s family, from Los Angeles County, camped at Yosemite’s Crane Flat Campground in mid-July and visited other places in the Stanislaus National Forest. No other family members have been sickened, and the child is said to be recovering.
Yosemite contains 13 camp grounds, which with about 4 million visitors is the third most visited U.S. national park.
This is the fourth case of plague in the American West this year; there have also been two plague-related deaths in Colorado.
One adult died in early August after contracting the plague from an unknown source. The Pueblo City-County Health Department has not revealed his or her identity but said the person may have developed the disease after coming into contact with fleas on a dead rodent or other animal. The department also noted that a dead prairie dog in the western part of the county tested positive for the disease.
In June, a Colorado teenager died just days after coming down with flulike symptoms caused by the plague.
Taylor Thomas Gaes was a promising athlete who was killed by septicemic plague, a rare form of the bacterial infection that he was thought to have contracted from a flea bite, the Denver Post reports.
This isn’t the first time the plague has been reported in Colorado recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information in May about four people in the state who contracted the plague last year from a dog. (All four survived.)
An average of seven cases of the plague occur in the U.S. each year, the CDC reports. They’re typically seasonal as well, with most cases occurring between late spring and early fall.
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of plague a person contracts. But a high fever is present in nearly all cases, as well as flulike symptoms. People with pneumonic plague may also develop a bloody cough, and those who contract bubonic plague usually experience painful, swollen lymph nodes.
The plague is serious — if left untreated, it can have a death rate of 50 percent or higher.
The FDA approved the drug Levaquin in 2012 to treat the plague, joining other antibacterial drugs, such as streptomycin, doxycycline, and tetracycline, that are approved for the treatment of the infection. A vaccine for the plague is also in the works, according to the CDC, but nothing is expected to be available to the public in the near future.