Idaho Child Infected With Plague, Officials Uncertain Where Patient Contracted Bacterial Disease

Ebony Scott
June 16, 2018

While plague in humans is rare, experts say it occurs naturally in some rodent populations, including ground squirrels in Idaho.

When a child in Idaho had a spiking fever, his parents rushed him in to a health care provider this week and were surprised to learn that he had an unlikely case of the bubonic plague.

Local health officials suspect that the boy contracted the disease when he was playing outside on a family trip to OR, but they don't know for sure.

It is the first human case in the state in more than 26 years, health officials added.

There have been two cases of plague in humans in Idaho and eight in OR since 1990, the Statesman said.

The disease, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is often associated with the "Black Death" epidemic that was spread by rats and killed millions in medieval Europe. And you think, "well, at least it's 2018 and not 1350", and while yes your knowledge of what year it is is correct, it doesn't change the fact that the plague is still here, and one young boy in Idaho is being treated for it now.

They are not also sure if the unnamed patient was infected in the state or during a recent trip to Oregon.

Plague has been found in wildlife in many western states.

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"People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife", Sarah Correll, an epidemiologist with Central District Health Department, said in the statement about the infected child.

- Reduce rodent habitat around your home, workplace and recreational areas. Fleas spread the disease between animals.

Keep pets from roaming and hunting ground squirrels or other rodents.

Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas. At the same time, be extremely careful around sick or dead rodents and never handle them yourself. The symptoms include fever, chills, weakness, and headache, followed by very painful and swollen lymph nodes, referred to as "buboes".

- Keep fleas off your pets by applying flea-control products.

The recently diagnosed plague case in Elmore County serves as a reminder that this disease can still be risky to both people and their pets and that anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors should take precautionary measures to shield themselves from infection.

In the United States, cases of the plague are most common in northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, souther Colorado, California, southern OR, and far western Nevada.

Other reports by GizPress

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