Idaho Child Diagnosed With Plague; Only 5th Human Case In State’s History

A case of the plague has emerged in Idaho — here's why the disturbing disease continues to re-appear

Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in Idaho.

Today, health officials in Elmore County, just east of the capital Boise, said the boy was diagnosed late last month.

A child in Idaho is recovering after being treated for the bubonic plague this week.

A child in Elmore County is recovering from a plague infection, state health officials announced on Tuesday.

Further, the Center for Disease Control noted other preventative measures include wearing gloves when handling animals that could be infected, and preventing pets from sleeping in the same bed as humans.

Epidemiologists with the Central Health District say it's not known whether the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon.

The plague is most prevalent in Africa and is also found in Asia and South America.

Epidemiologists say this case serves as a reminder that plague is risky to people and pets, but the disease should not enourage recreationists from enjoying the Idaho outdoors. People can reduce the chance of encountering plague by avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses.

That said, researchers past year found traces of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium which causes the plague, among squirrels in Elmore County. 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.


Untreated, patients can develop pneumonic plague, the most serious form of the disease, which spreads from person to person when infected people cough tiny droplets into the air.

Don't feed rodents in campgrounds, picnic areas, or near your home.

- Keep fleas off your pets by applying flea-control products.

See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.

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

One or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes, or buboes, usually from the bite of an infected flea.

Plague signs in cats and dogs include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

In 2012, a man in OR was hospitalized for plague after he tried to pull a mouse out of his cat's mouth. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, fatal infections in people and pets can be limited. The Idaho Central District Health's statement said that since 1990, there have been two cases in Idaho and eight in Oregon.

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