Chipmunk, Squirel Plague Worries Move to Lake Tahoe

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012  |  Updated 1:21 PM PDT
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Rodent Plague Worries Move to Lake Tahoe

The plague occurs naturally and is most commonly found in rurual areas.

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Rodents carrying the plague are the latest worry for campers and hikers in California - now spotted in both the north and south of the state.

A chipmunk died from the disease South Lake Tahoe, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The discovery follows a ground squirrel that was diagnosed with the bubonic plague in Riverside County just last week. 

The positive test for the squirrel was the first reported case of the bubonic plague in Southern California in nearly a decade. It reportedly showed no signs of illness.

The chipmunk, on the other hand, was found rolled up in a ball, shaking and struggling to breathe when it was discovered near the entrance to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Officials have put up warning signs for visitors around South Lake Tahoe asking people to report any sick or dead animals.  State and county animal experts said they are also trapping and testing rodents in the area.

Symptoms of bubonic plague include swollen lymph glands, fever, headache, chills, and weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In extreme cases it can cause death but can be treated if caught early.

Bubonic plague is only spread from a bite from an infected flea or touching an infected animal. It cannot spread from person to person, according to the CDC.

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