Elmore County child recovering from plague

Credit PA

Credit PA

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.

It is still unclear whether the child in Elmore County was exposed to the disease in Idaho or during a recent trip to or, according to the Central District Health Department.

According to the state's health department, it is unknown whether the child was exposed to the plague in Idaho, or if the illness was picked up during a recent trip to Oregon. Since those discoveries, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, public health districts and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have been working to raise awareness of plague in the area each year.

The plague is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis, which is transmitted by fleas.

"People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife", CDHD epidemiologist Sarah Correll said in a statement.

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

Keep your pets from roaming and hunting voles or other rodents.

Credit PA
Credit PA

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.

- Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents.

See your doctor if you have any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever after being in a plague-endemic area.

Don't leave pet food and water where rodents or other wild animals can access them. Bubonic plague results in painfully swollen lymph nodes, while septicemic plague happens when the infection gets in the blood and causes skin and tissue to turn black and die. Cats with plague pneumonia can give it to people.

People that may have been exposed to the plague by being within about six feet of a person or animal who has contracted the infection, can also take preventive antibiotics.

CDHD says prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment can greatly reduce the risk of death in people and pets. Prior to this case, the last two cases reported in Idaho occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering.

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