Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, the plague has entered Tahoe.
Visitors to Tahoe’s Tallac Historic Beach, Kiva Beach/Picnic area, and the Taylor Creek Visitor Center were greeted with closure signs this week, indicating that the area’s now off-limits due to the bubonic plague. There are now dozens of signs in each parking lot reading “plague warning” and “closed due to bubonic plague in the area.”
Officials from the California Department of Public Health have confirmed that rodents in the area are carrying fleas infected with the plague, and it’s likely the location where the Tahoe woman contracted the plague in August. The U.S. Forest Service is now applying insecticide in the area in an effort to kill the fleas infected with the plague.
“People should be on the lookout for unusual things like a rodent acting unusual, or a rodent that is dead with no visual signs of trauma,” U.S. Forest Service Spokesperson Lisa Herron said.
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. The woman who contracted the plague in August was discharged from the hospital after successfully responding to antibiotics.
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