EL DORADO COUNTY, CA - A total of 3 chipmunks tested positive for the plague in the South Lake Tahoe area.
California Department of Public Health tested 38 chipmunks and 3 squirrels for the plague during the this month's surveillance effort, El Dorado County Department of Environmental Health spokesperson Karen Bender said.
The department said the results of the tests are not surprising, but do warrant precaution. The plague is an infectious bacterial disease that is spread by wild rodents and their fleas. People can be infected by close contact with the rodents or their fleas.
"Risk of transmission is significantly reduced during the winter months because rodents and their fleas are less active when the weather is cold," Interim El Dorado County Health Officer, Dr. Robert Hartmann said.
Cases of the plague are common in mountain and foothill areas of California, but cases in people are rare. The plague can be treated by antibiotics if detected early.
Symptoms of the plague appear within two weeks of exposure and include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.