Local, state and federal officials are urging caution after a chipmunk near Taylor Creek Visitor Center was found infected with plague last week.
The rodent was rolled up in a ball, shaking and struggling to breathe when it was discovered by a U.S. Forest Service employee, Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Heck said.
Vector control officials were contacted and captured the animal, which tested presumptive positive for the bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, Heck said.
The disease is rare, highly infectious and can be fatal, according to a Wednesday statement from the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department.
Warnings are now posted for Taylor Creek, Tallac Historic Site and Camp Richardson Resort. The public is being asked to report any sick or dead animals.
California Department of Public Health and El Dorado County officials are trapping and testing rodents in the areas.
Additional rodent surveillance is planned in the area this week to assess public risk. The Forest Service is awaiting further recommendations from California Department of Public Health based on the results.
General Precautions against plague
- Avoid contact with wild rodents/fleas
- Do not touch sick/dead rodents
- Report to rangers/health authorities
- Do not camp, sleep/rest near animal burrows
- Wear long pants tucked into boots to reduce exposure to fleas
- Apply insect repellant to socks/pant cuffs
- Leave pets at home
- Muscle aches/weakness
- Swollen/tender lymph nodes
USFS LTBMU Press release: