By JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press Writer
Sat Nov 10, 5:08 PM ET
Eric York, 37, who worked in the park's cougar collaring program, became ill on Oct. 30 and called out sick from for a couple of days before being found dead in his home Nov. 2. Tests were positive for the pneumonic plague.
Officials said 49 people who came in contact with
York, whose family lives in Massachusetts, had skinned the cougar and was exposed to its internal organs during the necropsy he performed three days before developing symptoms, said David Wong, an epidemiologist for the U.S. Public Health Service.
The cougar, which had died from the plague, was believed to have remained in back-country areas where park visitors wouldn't normally go, officials said.
The National Park Service is planning to review its safety guidelines for wildlife biologists and make possible recommendations for improvements. Park Superintendent Steve Martin said authorities were examining whether the guidelines were followed in
An average of 13 plague cases are reported in the
Plague is transmitted primarily by fleas and direct contact with infected animals. When the disease causes pneumonia, it can be transmitted from an infected person to a non-infected person by airborne cough droplets. Cases are treatable with antibiotics.
Associated Press reporter Bob Christie contributed to this report.