Public health officials are warning that a chipmunk at Taylor Creek Visitor Center tested positive for the bacteria that causes plague.
Fall visitors to area picnic spots and campgrounds and area residents should take precautions to protect themselves from plague, a disease transmitted by infected fleas, Interim County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Hartmann advised.
In a notice issued Wednesday, the El Dorado County Department of Environmental Health was notified by the California Department of Public Health that the chipmunk tested presumptive positive for Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes plague.
Plague is a rare yet highly infectious bacterial disease that is spread by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas.
People may be exposed to plague through an infected flea bite, handling an infected rodent, or exposure to an infected pet (especially a sick cat).
Early symptoms of plague include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin.
Individuals who develop these symptoms within two weeks of possible exposure should seek immediate medical attention and inform the physician that they have been in a plague endemic area.
Plague is curable in its early stages with prompt diagnosis and proper treatment, but may be fatal if not treated early.
If a pet becomes sick after visiting an area, take the pet to a veterinarian and inform the vet that the pet has been in an area where rodents have plague.
To report a sick or dead rodent, contact El Dorado County Vector Control at (530) 573-3197.
For more information on plague in California, visit the following website: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/Plague.aspx.