Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

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

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

The child, who has not been identified, is from the north-west state of Idaho, according to reports.

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".

One of the more significant plague reservoirs is the western United States, which is why many parks in this region post signs warning visitors to keep their distance from wild rodents and to wear protective clothing and/or insect repellent.

The case serves as a reminder to recreationists in southern Idaho that plague is risky to people and pets, but with proper awareness, precautions, and prompt treatment when needed, plague should not discourage you from enjoying the Idaho outdoors.

People still catch the plague every year, usually after coming into contact with fleas that carry plague bacteria.

The Idaho health department said plague was found in the state in 2015 and 2016 in squirrels. 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.

For just the fifth time since 1940, an Idaho resident has been diagnosed with the plague.

As for humans, the bacteria is most commonly transmitted through flea bites, especially since pets can bring the infected fleas inside. That list includes rats, voles, and ground squirrels, all of which can be found in Idaho. The symptoms include fever, chills, weakness, and headache, followed by very painful and swollen lymph nodes, referred to as "buboes". The Idaho Central District Health's statement said that since 1990, there have been two cases in Idaho and eight in Oregon.

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Don't feed rodents in campgrounds, picnic areas, or near your home.

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

Put hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible from your home.

Don't leave pet food and water where rodents can get to them.

Rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, bloody or watery mucous.

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.

CDHD says prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment can greatly reduce the risk of death in people and pets.

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