An ancient terror turns up in Idaho, US: bubonic plague

An ancient terror turns up in Idaho, US: bubonic plague

A child in Elmore County, Idaho is recovering from plague in the first human case of the bacterial disease in Idaho since 1992.

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

The unidentified child from Elmore County could have become infected in his home state or during a recent trip to or, the Central District Health Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Cases of plague in Idaho were diagnosed in squirrels as recently as 2016, though none have been found in southern Ada County or Elmore County this year.

Officials are racing to determine whether he contracted the disease in Idaho or during a recent family trip to Oregon.

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

"People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife", Sarah Correll, a Central District Health Department epidemiologist, said in a statement.

There are a few plague cases every year in the United States, mostly in the rural West and especially the Southwest.

Credit PA
Credit PA

It can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with an infected animal or flea, but person-to-person transmission is considered extremely rare.

Although globally people are still diagnosed with the disease, it's much more rare than it was in the 14th century, when a bubonic plague swept across Europe with a shockingly high death toll. There may be a swelling in the lymph nodes under the jaw of pets.

In wild rodent populations that harbor the bacteria, plague can thrive for a long time before humans come into contact with it.

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

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.

Symptoms of the bubonic plague, most commonly transmitted through flea bites and accounting for 80% of all reported cases of the plague, include sudden onset fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes.

Between 1346 and 1353, the plague, also called the Black Death, killed between 75 and 200 million people in European countries.

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