Lake Tahoe Shut Down Amid Chipmunk-Driven Plague Concerns
If mounting concerns surrounding the Delta variant of Covid-19 weren't enough to spark widespread alarm about the current state of global health, it seems the universe decided it was high time for a mid-1300s throwback, adding a sprinkle of the plague into the mix.
Yep, earlier this week, the U.S. Forest Service announced that several areas, including a few popular hiking spots, near the south shore of Lake Tahoe on the Nevada/California border would be temporarily closed after local chipmunk populations tested positive for the plague. I always knew Chip and Dale were up to no good …
The shutdown is set to last until later this week, after “Vector Control" completes “its eradication treatments,” according to a recent Facebook post from the agency.
Now, before you start panicking and layering your period-accurate plague doctor garb atop your double masks and face shield, Lisa Herron, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service clarified that despite this startling discovery, we're not doomed – the discovery is actually somewhat normal.
“Bubonic plague is naturally occurring in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and this region,” Herron explained, per The Guardian. “It’s something that visitors need to take precautions about, but it’s not something that they need to worry about," she continued, noting that guests should keep themselves and their pets away from chipmunks, squirrels, and rodent burrows, and report any lethargic animals or any wildlife acting strange to rangers at the park.
Although symptoms of the plague include fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, and weakness, which generally tend to show up within two weeks of exposure, according to NBC News, the disease can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough. That said, a spokesperson for El Dorado county told the publication that the chipmunks in question had not been in contact with any visitors.
So, Covid-19, if you're reading this, you better watch out. The plague is coming for your gig … at least among southwestern, lake-dwelling chipmunks.
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