When a child in Idaho had a spiking fever, his parents rushed him in to a health care provider this week and were surprised to learn that he had an unlikely case of the bubonic plague.
Central District Health Department epidemiologists say it is not known whether the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon.
This is the first human case of the plague identified in the state since 1992.
The plague is most prevalent in Africa and is also found in Asia and South America. 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.
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. "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.
According to the CDHD, plague among humans is rare but can be found in local ground squirrels and other rodents naturally.
Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria.
Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents.
See your doctor if you have any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever after being in a plague-endemic area.
Keep fleas off your pets by applying flea-control products.
- Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents.
Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles and lots with tall grasses and weeds. In most cases, there is also a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit, or neck.
Plague bacteria. A child in Idaho was infected with the plague. Cats with plague pneumonia can give it to people.
CDHD says prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment can greatly reduce the risk of death in people and pets. The last two reported cases occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering.