Yosemite resorts to pesticide to rid park of the plague

Yosemite deals with plague outbreak with pesticides.

In response to the increasing presence of the plague in the park, Yosemite officials have closed the Tuolumne Campground. Photo: altes/Twenty20

In response to the recent outbreak of the plague in Yosemite National Park, park officials closed the Tuolomne Meadows Campground yesterday as they attempt to rid the national park of the disease.

After finding the carcasses of two squirrels that died as a result of the plague, officials chose to close the campground as they spray pesticides into burrow holes where local rodents live, in an attempt to kill off the fleas that tend to carry and spread the plague.

The campground will remain closed through the end of the week.

“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,”Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Health, told the AP.

Similar measures were taken in the Crane Flat Campground, where a young girl contracted the plague during a mid-July trip. That campground, however, was reopened last Friday.

While there has been a rise in the number of cases of the plague this year in the United States (there have been eight reported cases this year, two of which were fatal, versus an average of seven annually) officials say it is still extremely rare.

In fact, prior to this year, the last officially diagnosed case of the plague in Yosemite National Park was in 1959.

Currently, scientists with the National Parks Service say they are working on a vaccine for rodents to better protect them from bacterial diseases like the plague, although they are yet to release it.

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