Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

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

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

Humans get the plague through direct contact with infected animals or fleas.

The Idaho health department said plague was found in the state in 2015 and 2016 in squirrels.

Evidently. It's unknown whether the child - whose identity was not disclosed - contracted the disease in Idaho or in or while on a recent vacation.

Prior to this case, the last two cases reported in Idaho occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering.

Epidemiologists say this case serves as a reminder that plague is unsafe to people and pets, but the disease should not enourage recreationists from enjoying the Idaho outdoors. Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles and mice. That would only happen through close proximity to someone suffering from the variation of the disease known as pneumonic plague.

There are a few plague cases every year in the United States, mostly in the rural West and especially the Southwest. The disease was later spread from urban rats to rural rodent populations, and a small number of cases have since emerged in rural areas, according to the CDC. People can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected by taking simple precautions.

Plague has been largely eradicated in North America, but is still found naturally in the western U.S.

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Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents.

Most of the time, people are exposed to plague when they or their pets go near wild or dead animals carrying fleas that are hosts to Yersinia pestis bacteria.

Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs or children.

BUBONIC: High fever, headache, chills, and weakness.

Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles, and put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as away as possible.

One or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes, or buboes, usually from the bite of an infected flea. Left untreated, people can still die from the plague.

Rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, bloody or watery mucous. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague but without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

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