Human Bubonic Plague Case Treated in Idaho for First Time in Decades

CDC via Getty Images The Oropsylla montana flea can be a carrier of the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes the plague

CDC via Getty Images The Oropsylla montana flea can be a carrier of the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes the plague

Health officials in Idaho announced on Tuesday that a child, whose age and gender has not been released, is recovering after contracting the bubonic plague, the state's first reported case of the illness in 26 years, according to USA Today.

The boy is recovering after being treated with antibiotics, KBOI reports.

Plague was identified in 2015 and 2016 in ground squirrels in both Elmore and south Ada counties.

The department said the child recently returned from a trip to OR, but it's not known whether the youngster contracted the plague in that state OR in Idaho, the Journal reported. Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare.

Central District Health Department, said in the statement about the infected child.

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

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents that is transmitted through the bites of infected fleas and can cause serious illness to people and pets if not treated quickly. "Since 1990, eight human cases were confirmed in OR and two were confirmed in Idaho".

One or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes, or buboes, usually from the bite of an infected flea. That would only happen through close proximity to someone suffering from the variation of the disease known as pneumonic plague.

The most common type is the bubonic plague, which represents 80 to 95 percent of cases. This strain of bacteria still occurs naturally in some rodent populations, spread by fleas in rats and squirrels, but is exceedingly rare in humans.

Ken Gage, a researcher focused on vector-borne disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NPR in 2014 that there are a number of rodents in the American West that are susceptible to plague.

In the 1400s, approximately 50 million people died of the Black Death.

In the US, people can contract the plague when disposing of squirrels or mice that died from the infection or traveled to an area where infected animals live. Human symptoms of plague usually appear within two to six days of contact and include fever, chills, headaches and often a swelling of lymph nodes under the armpit, the CDHD said. It can also be transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected animals or their fleas.

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