A child in Elmore County was confirmed to be infected with the plague this week, according to the Central District Health Department, marking the first human diagnosis in Idaho since 1992. That would only happen through close proximity to someone suffering from the variation of the disease known as pneumonic plague.
Plague is a bacterial disease found in rodents that is transmitted through the bites of infected fleas and can cause serious illness to people and pets if not treated quickly, according to the news release.
Health officials stress that person-to-person transmission is extremely rare and this case was not a risk to others.
The plague is most prevalent in Africa and is also found in Asia and South America. In 2015, 16 cases of plague were reported and, in 2016, there were only 4 cases.
Plague is most commonly found in the western U.S.
There are a few cases every year in the United States and more in other parts of the world. 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. In the case of septicemic plague, patients can experience bleeding and their skin could turn black.
Pneumonic plague, which is based in the lungs, "is the most virulent form of plague" and "can be fatal" when not diagnosed and treated early on, according to the WHO.
While it may sound like something out of the Middle Ages, the plague infects around seven Americans a year, and is generally treatable with antibiotics. This is important - when an animal dies from the plague, fleas leave the body and look for another host, which could be your pet, especially if it rolls in a carcass or eats it.
In 2012, a man in OR was hospitalized for plague after he tried to pull a mouse out of his cat's mouth.
Keep pets from running loose in areas where the plague is common, regularly treat pets for fleas and take sick animals to the vet right away.
Plague bacteria. A child in Idaho was infected with the plague.
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