Idaho child diagnosed with plague; only fifth human case in state history

Idaho child diagnosed with plague; only fifth human case in state history

An Elmore County child is the first with a confirmed human case of plague in the state since 1992.

The boy is recovering after being treated with antibiotics, KBOI reports.

The child, who has not been identified, is now home after a course of antibiotics in a local hospital, Christine Myron, spokesperson for the Central District Health Department, said on Wednesday. However, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, there was a plague outbreak south of Boise from 2015 through 2016 that affected animals.

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.

Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in the Gem State.

The Central District Health Department, which announced the news of the bubonic plague's return, said it was unclear whether the boy had contracted the disease in Idaho or on a recent trip to Oregon.

There are a few plague cases every year in the USA, mostly in the rural west and especially the south-west.

According to health officials, plague in humans is rare and is spread through a bite from an infected flea. Since 1990, there have been eight confirmed cases in OR and two in Idaho. Can develop from untreated bubonic plague.

Ken Gage, a researcher focused on vector-borne disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NPR in 2014 that there are a number of rodents in the American West that are susceptible to plague.

The CDC states that those with bubonic plague may also experience swollen lymph nodes and that those with pneumonic plague may experience pneumonia along with chest pain, coughing and trouble breathing. Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles and mice. Human symptoms of plague usually appear within two to six days of contact and include fever, chills, headaches and often a swelling of lymph nodes under the armpit, the CDHD said.

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 gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria.

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