Officials confirm Idaho’s first human plague case since 1992

Officials confirm Idaho’s first human plague case since 1992

Officials confirm Idaho’s first human plague case since 1992

A child in Elmore County, Idaho, has been diagnosed with the plague, according to a statement by Central District Health in Idaho.

The Central District Health Department said the diagnosis was confirmed this week.

Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in the Gem State.

The plague was brought to the United States around 1900 by rat-infested steamships that had sailed from areas with high infection rates. Humans usually get the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium.

You can reduce your risk of becoming infected with plague by avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses. 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. It also can be transmitted to people by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets. No one should feed rodents in parks and picnic or campground areas, and people should never handle sick or dead rodents.

Keep your pets from roaming and hunting voles or other rodents.

See your doctor if you have any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever after being in a plague-endemic area.

- Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents.

Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets.

Don't leave pet food and water where rodents or other wild animals can access them.

Bubonic plague is the most common form and known for causing swollen lymph nodes or buboes, according to the World Health Organization. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, with possible swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. Left untreated, people can still die from the plague.

People that may have been exposed to the plague by being within about six feet of a person or animal who has contracted the infection, can also take preventive antibiotics. The last two reported cases occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague but without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

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