Officials confirm Idaho’s first human plague case since 1992

Plague is most commonly found in the western U.S.               CDC

In a press release, the Health Department said that "Plague has historically been found in wildlife in both states", and that "since 1990, eight human cases were confirmed in OR and two were confirmed in Idaho".

There are a few cases every year in the USA and more in other parts of the world. That would only happen through close proximity to someone suffering from the variation of the disease known as pneumonic plague.

A child in Elmore County was confirmed to be infected with the plague this week, according to the Central District Health Department, marking the first human diagnosis in Idaho since 1992.

Officials are unsure whether the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon.

A state health official told the Idaho Statesman newspaper that the public is advised to "wear insect repellant, long trousers and socks when visiting plague affected areas".

The Idaho Statesman Journal reports the child, from Elmore County, is recovering after receiving antibiotics. Patients typically develop fever, headache, chills, weakness and painful swelling in the lymph nodes.

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

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

The plague is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis, which is transmitted by fleas.

Don't leave pet food and water where rodents can get to them.

In wild rodent populations that harbor the bacteria, plague can thrive for a long time before humans come into contact with it. Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles and mice. It can also be spread through the air from infected humans or animals and can be fatal.

"What we see in the West here is the fleas will crawl up to the entrance of the burrow and wait for a host to come by", Gage told NPR.

Although the idea of the plague sounds dire, another "black death" is not coming. Plague is still one of the scarier infectious diseases out there, with a mortality rate between 30% and 60% if untreated.

According to the most recent data, there were no deaths from plague in 2016, but four in 2015.

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