Health officials confirm California's 1st plague case in 5 years at South Lake Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - MARCH 5: A pinkish color lights the sky over the mountains before sunrise on March 5, 2020, in South Lake Tahoe, California. After a series of heavy snowstorms in December, the moisture flowing off the Pacific Ocean and into th

Health officials have confirmed a case of plague at South Lake Tahoe -- the first in California in five years.  

El Dorado County officials said Monday the California Department of Public Health notified them of the positive test of a local resident who is under medical care while recovering at home.  

Plague bacteria are most often transmitted by fleas that have acquired it from infected squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents.

Dogs and cats may also carry plague-infected fleas.   Health officials believe the South Lake Tahoe resident may have been bitten by an infected flea while walking a dog along the Truckee River corridor or in the Tahoe Keys area on Tahoe's south shore.  

The last reported human cases of plague in California were in 2015 when two people were exposed to infected rodents or their fleas in Yosemite National Park. Both were treated and recovered.  

No human cases have been reported since, but authorities did find evidence that a total of 20 ground squirrels or chipmunks around South Lake Tahoe had been exposed to the plague bacterium from 2016-19.

Those rodents were identified near the Tallac Historic Site, Fallen Leaf Campground or Taylor Creek Visitor Center.