The first case of plague confirmed at South Lake Tahoe (first in California in five years). The California Department of Public Health notified El Dorado County officials on Monday that a local resident tested positive for plague and is under medical care at his residence. The Department of Public health also said that the person is recovering.
There is a high chance of the bacteria being transmitted by fleas that have most likely been affected by infected squirrels, wild rodents and chipmunks. The worrying fact is that cats, as well as dogs, may also carry these plague-infected fleas. California’s health officials assume that the man who is a resident of South Lake Tahoe may have been bitten by a plague-infected flea along the Truckee River corridor or in the Tahoe Keys area on Tahoe’s south shore while walking a dog.
El Dorado County Public Health Officer, Dr Nancy Williams said, “It’s important that individuals take precautions for themselves and their pets when outdoors, especially while walking, hiking and/or camping in areas where wild rodents are present.” She also added, “Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious.”
In the year 2015, it happened to be two cases of plague-infected humans. These two people got exposed to plague-infected fleas in Yosemite National Park.
The infected were treated and recovered successfully. Since 2016 no other cases of plague-bacteria infected humans have been found. But, the authorities did discover around 20 plague bacterium infected chipmunks around South Lake Tahoe from 2016-2019. They were found near Tallac Historic Site, Fallen Leaf Campground or Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
The disease has not one but many symptoms. If around South Lake Tahoe one must be cautious regarding symptoms like nausea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and fever. The symptoms are evident in around two weeks after being exposed to the bacterium. This disease can get deadly if not treated timely. But, one can be cured if caught early and can be treated with antibiotics.
The disease holds a history of killing millions of people in various corners around the globe. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, this disease killed millions in a series of outbreaks and was known as Black Death. Fortunately, and with great effort, the disease has now become very rare. In a report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases occurs on a nationwide level each year. Out of which most of them in the United States are scattered in rural areas in the west, including northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada.