According to press sources, chipmunks in the South Lake Tahoe area tested positive for plague, leading officials to shut many locations in the area.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that officials stated this week that Kiva Beach and the Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe will be closed through Friday (Aug. 6) due to positive plague testing.
According to the Daily Tribune, the afflicted chipmunks have no known human interaction.
Plague Bacteria in the US
According to the California Department of Health, the bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, is naturally prevalent in several regions of California, including El Dorado County, where South Lake Tahoe is located.
A resident of South Lake Tahoe tested positive for plague last year, marking the first occurrence in the state in five years.
Plague is most famous for triggering Europe's Black Death in the 1300s. Infections continue to exist in current times. However, human instances are uncommon and typically curable with simple antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around seven cases of plague occur in the United States each year on average.
The CDC reported that most plague cases are found in northern New Mexico, north of Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon, and western Nevada. The majority of human plague cases have occurred in Africa during the 1990s, according to the WHO.
According to the CDC, the disease is carried by rodents such as squirrels, rats, chipmunks, and their fleas. In addition, according to the CDC, humans can contract the plague via flea bites or contact with the tissues or body fluids of an infected animal.
Officials advise people living in or visiting plague-endemic areas to avoid contact with wild animals.
Dr. Bob Hartmann, the interim county public health officer for El Dorado County, issued a statement saying, "Do not feed mice in picnic or camping areas, and never handle ill or dead rats."
According to the statement, to avoid flea exposure, people should keep dogs away from rat burrows and wear long trousers and insect repellent.
Plague is an infectious illness caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, most commonly seen in small animals and their fleas. The condition is passed from animal to animal by fleas, and because it is a zoonotic bacteria, it may also be passed from animal to human.
Humans can become infected by being bitten by infected fleas, coming into direct touch with infected objects, or inhaling contaminated air. If left untreated, the plague may be a severe disease in people, especially in its septicemic and pneumonic stages, with a case-fatality ratio of 30 percent to 100 percent.
Even though the plague has been responsible for several pandemics throughout history, including the so-called Black Death, which killed over 50 million people in Europe during the fourteenth century, it is now treatable with medicines and regular prevention measures.
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