Elmore County child recovering from plague

Henrietta Strickland
June 14, 2018

According to the state's health department, it is unknown whether the child was exposed to the plague in Idaho, or if the illness was picked up during a recent trip to Oregon.

The following is a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Christine Myron, a spokeswoman for the Central District Health Department, said Wednesday that the child, who has not been publicly identified, is back home in Elmore County, Idaho, and "doing well" after being treated with antibiotics in the hospital.

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.

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

It is still unclear whether the child in Elmore County was exposed to the disease in Idaho or during a recent trip to or, according to the Central District Health Department. Flea bites spread bubonic or septicemic plague, which both cause fever and weakness.

The case serves as a reminder to recreationists in southern Idaho that plague is unsafe to people and pets, but with proper awareness, precautions, and prompt treatment when needed, plague should not discourage you from enjoying the Idaho outdoors.

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.

Keep your pets from roaming and hunting voles or other rodents. It can be spread by contact with an infected animal or through fleas.

Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents.

Talk to your veterinarian about flea control for your pets before venturing out to ground squirrel areas, and follow the directions on the label.

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

Store hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible away from your home. In most cases, there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas.

Rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, bloody or watery mucous.

In 2012, a man in OR was hospitalized for plague after he tried to pull a mouse out of his cat's mouth. People can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected by taking simple precautions. The Idaho Central District Health's statement said that since 1990, there have been two cases in Idaho and eight in Oregon.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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