Officials in El Dorado County, California, announced the closure of several locations on the south shore of Lake Tahoe on Monday after chipmunks in the area had tested positive for bubonic plague.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is carrying out vector control treatments to the affected areas, with the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Kiva Beach and their parking areas expected to remain closed for the public until Friday, according to The Tahoe Daily Tribune.
None of the infected animals have had contact with humans, El Dorado County spokesperson Carla Hass said Monday, The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported. (RELATED: Squirrel Tests Positive For Bubonic Plague In Colorado)
While plague cases in humans are rare, health consequences for those contracting the disease may be extremely serious. People exposed to squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas are at higher risk. Those infected usually developed symptoms within two weeks after exposure, which include nausea, chills, high fever, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck, or groin, according to a press release by the El Dorado County government.
“Individuals can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents and their fleas,” El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Hartmann said, according to the press release.
“Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents. Also, leave your pets at home when visiting areas with elevated plague risk,” Hartmann added.