Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Case of plague confirmed in Idaho child; first there since 1992

Olha Schedrina  The Natural History Museum   Flea under a microscope Olha Schedrina The Natural History Museum Flea under a microscope
Gustavo Carr | 14 June, 2018, 06:55

Sarah Correll, an epidemiologist with the Central District Health Department, said in a statement that plague can be spread to humans when they are bitten by infected fleas.

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

One of the oldest identifiable diseases known to man, the plague is still widely distributed in the warm parts of the world.

Idaho's Central District Health Department reported on Tuesday that a child in Elmore County was recovering from 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. Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare.

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.

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An unidentified child in Idaho is recovering after receiving treatment for the plague. Since 1990, there have been two cases of plague in humans in Idaho and eight in Oregon.

People can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas, and rodent carcasses. When a case does crop up in the USA, disease detectives try to find every person an infected individual came into contact with.

In wild rodent populations that harbor the bacteria, plague can thrive for a long time before humans come into contact with it.

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). Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles and mice. In rural areas with semi-arid forests and grasslands, these animals spread the disease amongst themselves. "If they get on another rodent that they can live on, then they've been successful".

As in, the "Black Death" is still around?

- Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. Plague is still one of the scarier infectious diseases out there, with a mortality rate between 30% and 60% if untreated. In 2015, 16 cases of plague were reported and, in 2016, there were only 4 cases.