According to CNN, a South Lake Tahoe resident was diagnosed with the plague, making it the first human case in the state in five years. Health officials think this person contracted the disease after being bitten by a plague-carrying flea while walking their dog. Fortunately that person is currently recovering at home under the care of medical professionals.
"Plague is naturally present in many parts of California, including higher elevation areas of El Dorado County,” El Dorado County Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams, said in a press release regarding the positive case. “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."
Following exposure to an infected animal or flea, symptoms show up within two weeks and can include fever, nausea, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes. The illness can be effectively treated with antibiotics if detected early.
"Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious," Williams said. Officials have put up signs in several areas of South Lake Tahoe to advise people of the presence of plague and ways to prevent exposure, including not feeding wild rodents and using insect repellent containing DEET.
As CNN reports, the last confirmed case of plague in California was back in 2015 after two people were exposed to infected rodents or their fleas in Yosemite National Park. Both were able to recover. The CDC reports that there are an average of seven cases of the human plague each year within the United States.