Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Medical | By

Black Death: Idaho boy is struck down with plague

Black Death: Idaho boy is struck down with plague

Officials in Idaho have confirmed a child has the plague, the first human case of the illness since 1992 in the state.

A child in Elmore County, Idaho, is in recovery after the contracting an infection of the Yersinia pestis bacteria - a disease so infamous that it is simply called the plague; though you may know it from its other memorable title, the Black Death.

Christine Myron, spokesperson for the Central District Health Department, said he is now recovering at home after a course of antibiotics at a local hospital.

Plague has been found in wildlife in many western states.

The health department reminds southern Idaho recreationists that plague is unsafe to people and pets and for people to be aware of what to look for when in the Idaho outdoors.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the bacteria that causes plague can be found in rodents and fleas.

One of the ways to avoid the plague is to prevent contact with infected fleas by wearing repellent during activities such as camping, hiking, working outdoors. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague. It can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with an infected animal or flea, but person-to-person transmission is considered extremely rare. That list includes rats, voles, and ground squirrels, all of which can be found in Idaho.

- Keep fleas off your pets by applying flea-control products.


See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.

Store hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible away from your home. Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents.

Don't leave pet food and water where rodents or other wild animals can access them. In most cases, there is also a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit, or neck.

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

Plague signs in cats and dogs include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

In 2012, a man in OR was hospitalized for plague after he tried to pull a mouse out of his cat's mouth.

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.

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

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