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California Has First Case of Plague in 5 Years

Dog-walker may have been bitten by infected flea
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2020 2:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Because a pandemic, a heat wave, and rolling power shortages weren't enough, California is now dealing with the plague, too. Health authorities in South Lake Tahoe say a local resident has tested positive—the first case for the state in five years, reports the Los Angeles Times. The best guess is that the unidentified person became infected after being bitten by a flea while walking their dog. Fleas typically become infected after biting squirrels or other rodents. The person is recuperating at home, per CNN.

"Human cases of plague are extremely rare but can be very serious," says El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams in a news release. She added that the plague is naturally present in the state. The last known cases in California occurred in 2015 when two visitors to Yosemite National Park were infected, either by rodents or fleas. Both recovered. Dogs and cats can bring infected fleas into homes, prompting health officials to warn pet owners to keep them away from rodent burrows. (Read more plague stories.)

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