SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Fleas tested positive for bubonic plague in parts of South Lake Tahoe prompting federal wildlife officials to close several areas for treatment.
“People should be on the lookout for unusual things like a rodent acting unusual, or a rodent that is dead with no visual signs of trauma,” Lisa Herron, U.S. Forest Service told KOVR.
The California Department of Health said rodents in the area were carrying infected fleas, KOVR reported.
A woman who was walking her dog contracted the plague in August. She responded well to antibiotics and was released from a hospital. It was the state’s first case of the plague in five years, KGO reported.
“Bubonic Plague is naturally occurring in many parts of California, including the Sierra Nevada, and can be transmitted through bites from infected fleas,” Forest Service officials told KTLA.
The Tallac Historic Site, Kiva Beach picnic area and the Taylor Creek Visitor Center were closed while wildlife officials sprayed an insecticide to kill fleas.
It is usually found in Northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon and far western Nevada, according to the CDC.
Officials said that while rare, contracting the plague is not unheard of. On average, about seven people every year test positive for the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms include sudden high fever, chills, headache, nausea and pain and swelling of lymph nodes that develop between two to seven days after exposure.