California Plague: South Lake Tahoe Resident Diagnosed; First Case in 5 Years

The California resident who has been diagnosed with the plague is recovering at home under professional medical care.

Health officials in California have confirmed that a resident of South Lake Tahoe has been diagnosed with plague, which is the first case in five years since 2015. According to reports, the first case of bubonic plague was reported by China on July 6. Officials believe that the person might have been infected after being bitten by an infected flea while he was walking his dog in the area, as stated in an El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency's press release.

The Department of Public Health in California confirmed the case after the resident tested positive on Monday. The press release further stated that the infected person is currently at home under the care of a medical professional and is recovering. El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams said: "Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious."

In the Middle Ages, the bubonic plague had claimed many lives. However, due to the advancement of medical science, the disease can be contained and effectively treated. This has reduced the occurrence of the disease in humans. The most common plague is the Bubonic plague which is characterized by 'buboes'. The plague causes nausea, fever, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.

Bubonic Plague
Bubonic Plague bacteria under an electron microscope. Pixabay

Reports say that the last human plague cases in California were detected in 2015. Back then two people were infected after being exposed to fleas of rodents at Yosemite National Park. Officials also found 20 squirrels or chipmunks which were exposed to the plague bacterium from 2016 to 2019 in the South Lake Tahoe.

Key Facts of the Plague

Plague is a zoonotic bacteria, Yersinia pestis, found in small mammals and their fleas.

Those infected with Yersinia pestis develop symptoms one to seven days after being exposed to it.

The Plague is usually transmitted by the bite of infected fleas, direct contact with infected tissues, and inhalation of infected droplets of the respiratory between animals and humans.

Bubonic and pneumonic are the two main clinical forms of plague infection.