Idaho Child Diagnosed With Plague; Only 5th Human Case In State’s History

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Idaho's Central District Health Department reported on Tuesday that a child in Elmore County was recovering from the bubonic plague.

A child in Idaho is recovering after being treated for the bubonic plague this week. Plague was identified in 2015 and 2016 in ground squirrels found in the desert south of Interstate 84 in Ada County.

A child in Elmore County, Idaho, is in recovery after the contracting an infection of the Yersinia pestis bacteria - a disease so infamous that it is simply called the plague; though you may know it from its other memorable title, the Black Death.

Human infection cases in the United States are relatively rare.

The child became ill last month, says Christine Myron, a spokeswoman for the Central District Health Department, in the first case since 1992.

There are a few plague cases every year in the U.S., mostly in the rural West and especially the Southwest.

Occasionally some humans do get infected with Yersinia pestis, usually through a flea or animal bite, according to

Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in Idaho.

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Credit PA

Untreated, patients can develop pneumonic plague, the most serious form of the disease, which spreads from person to person when infected people cough tiny droplets into the air.

The health department reminds southern Idaho recreationists that plague is unsafe to people and pets and for people to be aware of what to look for when in the Idaho outdoors. This strain of bacteria still occurs naturally in some rodent populations, spread by fleas in rats and squirrels, but is exceedingly rare in humans. If the infection is not treated right away, the inflamed lymph nodes can turn into open sores filled with pus, according to the World Health Organization.

The Black Death of the Middle Ages has been estimated to have killed between 155-200 million people in Europe in the 14th century, including one in every three Europeans.

'Wear insect repellent, long trousers and socks when visiting plague affected areas'.

According to the CDC, symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, extreme weakness and, depending on the type of plague, skin discoloration, swollen and painful lymph nodes, or pneumonia.

- Reduce rodent habitat around your home, workplace and recreational areas. It also can be transmitted to people by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets.

Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets.

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