Lake Tahoe plague monitoring continues at Fallen Leaf Campground | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe plague monitoring continues at Fallen Leaf Campground

Staff report

A flea taken from a yellow-pine chipmunk at Fallen Leaf Campground during routine testing in May tested positive for bubonic plague. The infectious agent is naturally occuring throughout the Sierra Nevada.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Plague warning signs remain up at Fallen Leaf Campground after flea samples tested positive for plague in May and June.

The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, under direction by California Department of Public Health, temporarily closed Fallen Leaf Campground in June to conduct pesticide treatments meant to limit plague risk in the area.

"Recommendations from the State of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) include maintaining 'Plague Warning' signs at Fallen Leaf Campground for the remainder of 2016," U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's public affairs specialist Lisa Herron said by email. "If plague activity is not evident in the spring of 2017, the warning signs would be replaced with the standard 'Plague Caution' signs.

"Visitors will continue to be reminded that plague is naturally occurring in higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, including the Lake Tahoe Basin, and that there are steps the public should take to minimize their risk of exposure. The CDPH will continue to provide plague prevention and control training to LTBMU recreation and concessionaire staff and continue to discourage the feeding of rodents by the public and to immediately notify public health officials if sick or dead rodents are observed in recreational sites."

People may get plague if bitten by an infected flea or through close contact with an infected rodent or pet. Plague can be prevented by avoiding contact with wild rodents, and by keeping pets away from rodent burrows. Risk of acquiring plague is very low when precautions are taken.

Symptoms of plague usually show up within two weeks of exposure to an infected animal or flea, and include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics if detected early. If you get sick after being in an area where plague is known to occur, consult a physician and tell them you may have been exposed to plague.

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To report a sick or dead rodent or for questions about plague, contact El Dorado County Environmental Management at 530-573-3450, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For questions about camping in the Lake Tahoe area, contact the Forest Service at 530-543-2600, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

For questions about plague surveillance activities, contact California Department of Public Health Office of Public Affairs at 916-440-7259.

For more information about plague, visit the CDPH website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/pages/plague.aspx.