Case of plague confirmed in Idaho child; first there since 1992

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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.

The Idaho child is recovering after receiving treatment, according to the health department.

Plague has been found historically in wildlife in both states.

A boy in Idaho is recovering after being diagnosed with the plague, health officials have revealed. Health officials said ground squirrels near the child's home in Elmore County, Idaho, had tested positive for carrying the disease in 2015 and 2016, though no cases have been reported since.

"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", state health officials said in a news release. Infected fleas spread the infection to animals, commonly mice, squirrels, prairie dogs and even cats and dogs.

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In the 1400s, approximately 50 million people died of the Black Death.

According to Quanta Magazine, it's usually passed through fleabites so direct contact with infected animals could lead to transmission. No one should feed rodents in parks and picnic or campground areas, and people should 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 your pets from roaming and hunting voles or other rodents.

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

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

Put hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible from your home. The symptoms include fever, chills, weakness, and headache, followed by very painful and swollen lymph nodes, referred to as "buboes".

Lab results this week confirmed he had the bubonic plague, which affects the lymph nodes (rather than the more deadly pneumonic plague which affects the lungs).

For just the fifth time since 1940, an Idaho resident has been diagnosed with the plague. Can develop from untreated bubonic plague.

Antibiotics are now effective in treating the disease, but officials say without prompt treatment, it can cause serious illness or death.

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