Public Health


Vector-Borne Diseases

As with any trip into the great outdoors, it's possible (though unlikely) that you could be exposed to a vector-borne disease while visiting Lassen Volcanic. Here are some general tips to reduce your risk:

Avoid contact with wildlife and keep food and trash stored properly.

  • Wild animals in Lassen Volcanic can transmit numerous diseases, including plague, rabies, and hantavirus. Keeping your distance and your food from wildlife not only protects them, it also protects you from injury and exposure to diseases.
  • If you encounter a mammal, particularly a fox, coyote, or bat, that is behaving erratically, don’t touch the animal. Instead, report the sick animal to a park employee.
  • In addition to keeping bears away, storing your food properly also reduces your exposure to rodents and their fleas, which may carry diseases.

Avoid sleeping in rodent-infested areas or near animal burrows.
If you see evidence of rodent activity in your room or other facility, contact park staff (don't clean it up yourself).

Vector-Borne Diseases in Lassen Volcanic Include:

Hantaviruses exist worldwide, causing infections in rodents and rarely in humans. The virus, which is primarily transmitted from infected rodents, can cause severe health outcomes in humans. The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is the primary host of the Sin Nombre virus (the causative agent of hantavirus infection) in Lassen Volcanic. Most human hantavirus infections are the result of breathing in air which has been contaminated with dried rodent urine or droppings, such as when cleaning out a rodent-infested space. More information on hantavirus, human infection, and prevention is available from the National Park Service or California Department of Public Health (CDPH). CDPH also offers information and maps specific to hantavirus in California.

Plague is naturally occurring in many rodent species in the foothills and mountainous areas of California, including Lassen Volcanic. Plague is rare among humans but is found each year among squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents. People can be infected with plague bacteria if they are bitten by a flea from an infected rodent or have close contact with an infected animal. More information about plague is available from CDPH.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. The virus is usually passed to humans via the bite of a rabid animal. Occasionally, rabies can be transmitted if the saliva of an infected animal gets into a fresh scratch, break in the skin, or contact with mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose). Throughout California, most cases of rabies occur in skunks and bats. Rabies is 100% preventable if appropriate medical attention is given prior to the development of symptoms, but is 100% fatal if an exposure is not treated. The California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have important information about rabies.


Other Public Health Issues in Lassen Volcanic

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Like all national parks, Lassen Volcanic is closely monitoring the news of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date information about the virus can be found on the CDC website. Learn more about the National Park Service response.

Air Quality

Air quality within the park is affected by air pollutants from the populated Sacramento Valley and other areas of agriculture and manufacturing. Smoke from fires in and near the park can impact air quality in the park, mainly in the late summer and early fall months. Learn more about air quality or wildfire smoke and air quality in the park.

Surface Water

To protect yourself from disease, treat any creek, stream, or lake water before drinking. The most reliable way to disinfect water is to boil it for three minutes. Otherwise, use a filter rated to remove bacteria and protozoa (1 micron or smaller filter). After filtering, treat the water with 2 drops of chlorine bleach per quart (liter) of water for 30 minutes in order to kill viruses, which are not removed by filters. Viruses aren't common in Lassen Volcanic's waters, but we recommend that you treat water to kill them.

To prevent the spread of Giardia and other water-borne disease organisms, use restroom facilities where available, and wash or sanitize your hands often. In natural areas where facilities are not available, bury human waste six inches deep and at least 100 feet away from any water source or trail. Also, do your washing and camping at least 100 feet away from any water source or trail.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Campers using gas-powered generators, stoves, lanterns, etc., run the risk of CO poisoning if they use these devices in areas without adequate ventilation.

Last updated: May 12, 2020

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Mineral, CA 96063


530 595-4480

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