Plague-infested chipmunks, squirrels no longer a threat at Lake Tahoe beach


BATH, ENGLAND – APRIL 23: A squirrel stands in grass and among daisy flowers in Royal Victoria Park on April 23, 2013 in Bath, England. After one of the coldest winters on record with a late start to spring, many parts of the UK are finally enjoying warmer temperatures and sunny spells. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

LAKE TAHOE (KRON) — Lake Tahoe has reopened Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach after treating for plague-infested fleas and rodents.

Authorities last week found chipmunks, ground squirrels and other wild rodents in the area infected with it, subsequently closing the sites temporarily.

Humans could get plague if they are bit by an infected flea, touch or hold an infected rodent, or are around a pet cat infected with plague, the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit said.

Plague is naturally occurring at Lake Tahoe, but 2020 was the first time in five years that a case of plague was confirmed in California. Officials believed the resident was bitten by an infected flea while walking a dog.

Antibiotics can treat plague in humans – if done promptly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If left untreated for too long, it can cause serious illness or death.

Human plague infections are typically reported in more rural parts of the western U.S., the CDC said.

Early symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and swollen and tender lymph nodes, according to the California Department of Health Services. People should report these symptoms within seven days of visiting a potentially plague-infested area.

Officials say Lake Tahoe is now safe to visit, but here are some tips to avoid catching the plague:

  • Do not camp, rest or sleep near animal burrows
  • Apply insect repellent to socks and pant cuffs
  • Do not feed or touch wild animals
  • Do not touch sick or dead animals
  • Keep your pets on a leash and don’t let them chase rodents

Anyone visiting Kiva Beach should also be aware of rodent traps or insecticide stations in the area.

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