Idaho child diagnosed with plague

Olha Schedrina  The Natural History Museum   Flea under a microscope

A child in Idaho has been diagnosed with the plague and people need to be on alert for the potentially fatal disease, state health officials said Tuesday.

The boy, a resident of Elmore County, is now recovering.

The child, who remains unidentified, was treated with antibiotics in the hospital and is now recovering at home in a stable condition. 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.

Officials are now trying to determine if he contracted the disease in Idaho or during a recent family trip to or, the Daily Mail reports.

The department says there have only been 10 cases of plague involving people in both states since 1990.

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.

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

It is most commonly transmitted through fleas, which contract the disease from rodents.

Lab results this week confirmed he had the bubonic plague, which was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history.

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.

In a press release, the Health Department said that "Plague has historically been found in wildlife in both states", and that "since 1990, eight human cases were confirmed in OR and two were confirmed in Idaho".

According to the CDHD, plague among humans is rare but can be found in local ground squirrels and other rodents naturally. In most cases, there's also a painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, armpit and neck.

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People can protect themselves when visiting plague-infested wildlife areas by wearing insect repellent, long trousers and socks.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, headaches and weakness.

Known as the "Black Death", the plague wiped out roughly one-third of Europe's population in the mid-1300's.

Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles and lots with tall grasses and weeds. "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".

Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets.

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