California resident diagnosed with the plague for first time in five years

California health officials have confirmed the first case of the plague in the state in five years, a South Lake Tahoe resident who may have been bitten by an infected flea while walking a dog, according to reports.

El Dorado County officials said they were informed about the infection by the California Department of Health. The patient, who is recovering at home, was walking along the Truckee River Corridor, officials said.

If detected early, deadly illness can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Symptoms, which usually show up within two weeks of exposure, may include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.

“Plague is naturally present in many parts of California, including higher elevation areas of El Dorado County,” said El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr Nancy Williams, according to ABC News.

“It’s important that individuals take precautions for themselves and their pets when outdoors, especially while walking, hiking and/or camping in areas where wild rodents are present. Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious,” she added.

From 2016 to 2019, a total of 20 rodents with evidence of exposure to plague bacteria were discovered in South Lake Tahoe, the network reported. There were no reports of plaque-associated illnesses during that time.

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