For the second year in a row, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach in South Lake Tahoe have been closed due to bubonic plague found in local chipmunks. The area will remain closed until at least Friday, August 6.
The positive tests for plague were found in chipmunks who had no human contact. Forest service officials will perform eradication treatments on Thursday with the hopes of having the area reopen by the weekend.
Plague is naturally occurring in many parts of California, including the Sierra Nevada, and can be transmitted through bites from infected fleas. Plague is readily treatable when diagnosed early. A woman who contracted the plague in August 2020 was discharged from the hospital after successfully responding to antibiotics.
“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,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams in a press release last year when a person was the first in five years in California to contract plague. “Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious.”
Visitors should take the following precautions when visiting areas where active plague has been found. Remember to stay on trails and if you must bring your pet, keep them on a short leash and do not let them investigate rodent burrows.
- Avoid contact with wild rodents, which can be infected with fleas
- Do not touch sick/dead rodents
- Report unusual observations to rangers
- Do not camp, sleep/rest near animal burrows
- Wear long pants tucked into boots to reduce exposure to fleas
- Apply insect repellent to socks/pant cuffs• If possible, leave pets at home