Lake Tahoe Closes Several Areas After Chipmunks Become Infected With the Bubonic Plague


Travel + Leisure 04 August, 2021 - 12:51pm 43 views

Where is Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe, freshwater lake occupying a fault basin on the California-Nevada border in the northern Sierra Nevada, U.S. Fed by numerous small streams, it is drained by the Truckee River to Pyramid Lake, Nevada, about 60 miles (100 km) northeast. britannica.comLake Tahoe | lake, United States

As a precautionary measure, Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach — including their parking areas — will be closed off through Sat., Aug. 7, for "plague treatment," according to a sign on a barrier. The U.S. Forest Service will use a vector control method to treat the region, the Associated Press reported. The areas are expected to reopen by the weekend.

While the term "plague" is best known for the deaths of millions of people during the Middle Ages, it continues to have a presence in rural parts of the western United States, as well as Asia and Africa, according to the CDC. The disease usually transfers to humans by a rodent flea bite or after handling an infected animal. Common signs of the bubonic plague include swelling and pain in the lymph nodes, and can usually be treated with antibiotics upon early diagnosis.

"It's important that individuals take precautions for themselves and their pets when outdoors, especially while walking, hiking, or camping in areas where wild rodents are present," Dr. Nancy Williams, the county's public health officer, said in a statement last year. "Human cases of plague are extremely rare, but can be very serious."

In 2019, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado shut down for about a month after a colony of prairie dogs was infected with the plague.

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Some areas of South Tahoe closed due to animals with plague | ABC7

KTVU San Francisco 05 August, 2021 - 04:40am

Part Of Lake Tahoe's South Shore Closed After Chipmunks Tested For Plague

TravelAwaits 04 August, 2021 - 07:03am

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As if dealing with a worldwide pandemic for more than a year hasn’t been enough, South Lake Tahoe officials are now dealing with the plague.

Several areas along the south shore of the lake resort will be closed for the rest of the week after some chipmunks tested positive for the plague. The positive tests were found in chipmunks with no human contact, El Dorado County spokesperson Carla Hass told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Kiva Beach, and their associated parking areas will be closed through Friday to allow for vector control treatments, officials said. The Tallac Site and Kiva picnic parking area will remain open.

Health officials said plague is naturally present in some areas of California and other isolated regions of the country. One person contracted plague in California last year, but it had been 5 years before that since the last case.

Despite the rarity of plague, health officials are sounding the alarm since this is the busiest time of year for outdoor activities in the Lake Tahoe region.

Plague is an infectious bacterial disease spread by rodents — such as squirrels and chipmunks — and their fleas. People and pets can become infected through close contact or the bite of an infected flea.

Officials said hikers, campers, and those taking part in outdoor activities should keep their distance from wild rodents, and pets should be kept away from them.

According to the California Department of Public Health, people who get infected with the plague show symptoms about 2 weeks after exposure. Symptoms include fever, nausea, and swollen lymph nodes, and it can become severe or even fatal if treatment and antibiotics are delayed.

While the number of people catching the plague is rare, a 10-year-old Colorado boy died last month from complications linked to the plague.“Awareness and precautions can help prevent the disease in people,” Jennifer House, an epidemiologist and public health veterinarian in Colorado, said in a statement. “While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early.”

Greg Robertson has worked as an editor and writer for some of the top newspapers and websites in the country, leading him to live all across the country. He now calls Las Vegas home, but has journeyed from the sunshine of California and the rain in Seattle, to the humidity of Arkansas and the snow of Minnesota. His travels have taken him to Puerto Vallarta, Costa Rica, Spain, and the Dominican Republic, but he's happiest at home with his wife, two daughters, and dog.

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Bubonic plague-infected chipmunks are shutting down parts of Lake Tahoe

Insider 03 August, 2021 - 10:14pm

The US Forest Service is moving in to do vector control treatments after detecting signs of plague infection in areas including the Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach. These are popular spots along the Lake Tahoe shore, known for picturesque hiking trails.

The bubonic plague was responsible for the 14th century Black Death pandemic which wiped out a third of Europe. It does still exist in California's foothills, plateaus, and mountains, and is mainly present in wild rodents. People can get infected if they are bitten by infected, plague-carrying fleas.

El Dorado County spokeswoman Carla Hass told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that the plague-infected chipmunks had no contact with people. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between one and 17 people are affected by the plague in the US every year. But it is preventable and treatable now, and will not cause serious illness or death if antibiotics are administered within a day of symptoms setting in. 

"Bubonic plague is naturally occurring in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and this region," said Lisa Herron, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service's Lake Tahoe basin management unit to the Guardian

Herron added that any "real danger" from getting the plague comes from the fleas that rodents carry. She told the Guardian that regional authorities regularly test said rodents by combing through their fur and examining the fleas they find.

Chipmunks and other rodents typically do not display any symptoms when carrying plague-infected fleas.

When an infection is detected, animal control will move in to attempt to eradicate the area of infected fleas by dusting the rodents' burrows with a powder, Herron said. 

"It's something that visitors need to take precautions about, but it's not something that they need to worry about," she added.

Cases of bubonic plague in humans are exceedingly uncommon. In August last year, a South Lake Tahoe resident was the first person in five years to test positive for the plague. Officials suspected at the time that the infected person was bitten by a flea carrying the plague while walking their dog along the Truckee River corridor.

Deaths from the bubonic plague are also very rare in the US but do happen occasionally. Last August, a man in his 20s from New Mexico's Arriba county died from the plague, the state's first plague-related death since 2015. And this July, a 10-year-old Colorado girl died after contracting the illness. She was the state's first case of plague-related death in six years. 

Chipmunks near Lake Tahoe test positive for the plague

New York Post 03 August, 2021 - 03:45pm

By Jackie Salo

Chipmunks near the south shore of Lake Tahoe in California have tested positive for the plague, prompting officials to shut down several spots in the area to protect visitors.

The infected chipmunks had no known contact with people before testing positive, El Dorado County spokeswoman Carl Hass said.

Health officials said that the infectious bacterial disease is naturally present in some areas of the state, including El Dorado County where South Lake Tahoe is located.

The disease, which caused the Black Death in Europe in the 1300s, can be spread by chipmunks, other wild rodents and their fleas.

Humans tend to experience symptoms within two weeks of exposure to an infected animal.

These symptoms can include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.

Officials said that Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Kiva Beach and their parking areas will be off-limits through Friday while park authorities perform vector-control treatments.

People who are taking part in outdoor activities or live in the area have been urged to refrain from making contact with animals.

“Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents,” Dr. Bob Hartmann, the interim county public health officer for El Dorado County, said in a statement.

California officials warn of plague risk after reports of infected chipmunks

Washington Times 03 August, 2021 - 01:37pm

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach will be closed through Friday because chipmunks in the areas have tested positive for the plague, according to news reports.

The infected chipmunks did not have any known contact with people, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported Monday, citing El Dorado County spokesperson Carla Hass.  

The Lake Tahoe Basin United States Forest Service said it will be treating the areas for plague abatement.

The Forest Service told the Daily Tribune that vector control eradication treatments will be completed Thursday and that the areas will likely reopen before the weekend.

The Tallac Site and Kiva Picnic parking area will stay open, and visitor center staff and volunteers will be at the Tallac Historic Site. 

Chipmunks have tested positive for Yersinia pestis, a bacterium that causes plague, in the areas.

In California, the plague most often infects wild rodents such as ground squirrels and chipmunks but it can pass onto humans, cats and other animals who live in or visit areas where there are naturally infected wild rodents.

A resident of South Lake Tahoe tested positive for the plague last year, becoming the first case in the state in five years. 

The plague can spread to humans through contact with the tissues or bodily fluids of an infected animal or from bites of infected fleas that live on wild rodents or in rodent burrows.

“Individuals can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents and their fleas,” said Interim El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Hartmann in a statement, noting elevated plague risk at the Taylor Creek Recreation Area. “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.”

An average of seven people catch the plague each year in the U.S. in recent decades, with the bubonic form making up more than 80% of cases. Most of the human cases occur in northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon and far western Nevada. 

Last month, public health officials in Colorado warned residents about plague activity after lab reports detected plague in animals and fleas from six counties, including LaPlata County, where a 10-year-old resident died from causes linked to the disease. 

Rat-infested steamships that sailed mostly from Asia introduced plague into the U.S. in the 1900s, with epidemics breaking out in port cities.

Los Angeles experienced the U.S.’ last urban plague in 1924 through 1925, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plague then spread from urban rats to rural rodent species and settled in many parts of the western U.S. 

Half of human plague cases occur in people ages 12 to 45 although it can affect individuals of all ages. While it infects men and women, it historically has been slightly more common among men, the CDC says. 

Symptoms include nausea, chills, high fever, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or groin.

Although a serious illness, plague can be treated with commonly available antibiotics.

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