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Chipmunks near the south shore of Lake Tahoe in California have tested positive for the plague, prompting officials to shut down several spots in the area to protect visitors.

The infected chipmunks had no known contact with people before testing positive, El Dorado County spokeswoman Carl Hass said.

Health officials said that the infectious bacterial disease is naturally present in some areas of the state, including El Dorado County where South Lake Tahoe is located.

The disease, which caused the Black Death in Europe in the 1300s, can be spread by chipmunks, other wild rodents and their fleas.

Humans tend to experience symptoms within two weeks of exposure to an infected animal.

These symptoms can include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.

Officials said that Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Kiva Beach and their parking areas will be off-limits through Friday while park authorities perform vector-control treatments.

People who are taking part in outdoor activities or live in the area have been urged to refrain from making contact with animals.

“Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents,” Dr. Bob Hartmann, the interim county public health officer for El Dorado County, said in a statement.

With Post wires

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