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Child in California diagnosed with plague

Child contracts plague on California camping ... 03:06

LOS ANGELES -- A child in Southern California is recovering after contracting a rare case of plague. It's the first time the disease has been diagnosed in the state in almost a decade, authorities said Thursday.

CBS Los Angeles reports the child -- who was identified only as a resident of Los Angeles County -- became ill and was hospitalized following a visit to Stanislaus National Forest and camping at Crane Flat Campground in Yosemite National Park in mid-July, according to California Department of Public Health spokeswoman Anita Gore.

Health officials are continuing to monitor the child's family and treatment providers, but no other members of the child's camping party reported symptoms. The child is recovering, Gore said.

As part of the investigation, officials are conducting an environmental evaluation in the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and the surrounding areas.

Plague is an infectious bacterial disease that is carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, its fleas can carry the infection to other warm-blooded animals or humans.

A person who contracts plague may have symptoms that start off similar to the flu: fever, chills, weakness, swollen and painful lymph nodes and sometimes pneumonia. The disease can be treated with antibiotics if it's caught early, but without quick treatment it can cause serious illness or death.

The last reported cases of human plague in California occurred in 2005 and 2006 in Mono, Los Angeles and Kern counties. In all three cases, the patients survived following treatment with antibiotics, according to Gore.

There have been no known cases of human-to-human infection in California since 1924.

In 2014, non-human plague activity was detected in animals in San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, and five other counties in the state.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an average of seven cases of plague are reported each year, mostly in Western states.

There have been two deaths from plague this summer in Colorado. An adult who contracted the disease died earlier this week in Pueblo County, and a 16-year-old boy in Larimer County died in June.

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