London, Oct 21 : With thousands of Siberian chipmunks invading Paris' forests, the capital city is under a huge threat of lethal Lyme disease.
Pest specialists have urged to ban the sale of Tamias Sibiricus, the Siberian chipmunk known as the Korean squirrel, in France, as many of them carry ticks, which are infected with Lyme disease.
The early manifestations of infection may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
And if left untreated, late manifestations involving the joints, heart, and nervous system can occur.
The experts are advising people to steer clear of the rodents.
"It's impossible to know how many there are overall, but we estimate that at one single site in the southern suburbs - the forest of Senart - there are several thousand of the chipmunks," Telegraph quoted Julie Marmet, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in the French capital, as saying.
Scientists have urged to ban the sales of the chipmunk, as they fear it poses a health hazard to humans.
These rodents carry the Borrelia virus, which causes Lyme disease - a dangerous nervous condition transmitted by ticks that can be fatal if not treated early.
"The point is that the chipmunks are much less shy than other rodents, so they are more likely to come into contact with humans.
"We think it is a basic precaution that the animals should be banned from sale in pet shops," said Jean-Louis Chapuis, France's leading expert on the non-indigenous rodents.