Idaho boy recovering from rare case of plague

Olha Schedrina  The Natural History Museum   Flea under a microscope

Olha Schedrina The Natural History Museum Flea under a microscope

A child in southern Idaho's Elmore County is recovering from the bacterial disease of plague, the first confirmed human case of plague identified in the state since 1992. "But they can also jump on humans, or on dogs, or coyotes, or cats, which aren't the right hosts, but unfortunately those animals can be bitten by the fleas and get plague".

Symptoms of bubonic and pneumonic plague are similar and include headache, fever and chills, and extreme weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

An unidentified child in Idaho is recovering after receiving treatment for the plague.

In the 1400s, approximately 50 million people died of the Black Death.

This plague case, like others that appear rarely but with some regularity, is the same disease that was responsible for the medieval "Black Death".

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

The plague was brought to the United States around 1900 by rat-infested steamships that had sailed from areas with high infection rates.

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In the USA, people can contract the plague when disposing of squirrels or mice that died from the infection or traveled to an area where infected animals live. In 2015, 16 cases of plague were reported and, in 2016, there were only 4 cases.

In the USA, the areas where the plague is more common include northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern OR and western Nevada.

There are a few cases every year in the USA and more in other parts of the world.

Much less common is the pneumonic plague, which can occur when a bubonic or septicemic plague is not treated and a person's lungs become infected.

The plague is a very serious illness, but is treatable with antibiotics, usually taken for seven to 14 days.

In 2012, a man in OR was hospitalized for plague after he tried to pull a mouse out of his cat's mouth.

"People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife", Correll said. This is important - when an animal dies from the plague, fleas leave the body and look for another host, which could be your pet, especially if it rolls in a carcass or eats it. Can develop from untreated bubonic plague.

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