Plague-carrying chipmunks prompt closure of areas around Lake Tahoe

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(NEXSTAR) – After the plague was found in some chipmunks along Lake Tahoe’s bustling south shore, the U.S. Forest Service announced that at least two sites will be closed through Friday.

Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Kiva Beach and their parking areas will close for the U.S. Forest Service to treat the area, officials said. The Tallac Site/Kiva Picnic area will remain open.

The eradication process is expected to be wrapped up in time for the weekend, officials said.

Human cases of the plague, which occurs naturally in parts of California, are rare but can be serious, officials warn. The bacterial disease is spread by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas.


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“People can become infected through close contact with infected animals or the bite of an infected flea,” the Forest Service warned. “Plague can be prevented by avoiding contact with these rodents and their fleas, and by keeping pets away from rodents and their burrows.”

El Dorado County officials have issued similar warnings in the past after the plague was detected in the same area.

While it’s very rare for a human to contract the plague in these cases, California got its first case in 5 years in August 2020, when a person was believed to be infected by a flea while walking a dog near the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

In Colorado, state health officials announced last month that plague had been found in six counties, and was linked to the death of a 10-year-old.

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