Idaho boy diagnosed with plague


A boy in the U.S. state of Idaho is recovering after contracting plague - the first human case in the state in more than two decades, health officials say.

The case in Elmore County, just east of Boise, is the first human case in the state since the early 1990s, and is believed to be the only one reported in the United States this year. The Central District Health Department says it's unclear if the child was exposed to the disease in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon. Plague was identified in 2015 and 2016 in ground squirrels found in the desert south of Interstate 84 in Ada County.

A child in Elmore County, Idaho, is recovering after getting infected from plague, CBS affiliate KBOI reports. Plague has been found in wildlife in both states.

The child became ill last month, says Christine Myron, a spokeswoman for the Central District Health Department, in the first case since 1992.

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Plague has been found in wildlife in many western states.

It is most commonly transmitted through fleas, which contract the disease from rodents. There may be a swelling in the lymph nodes under the jaw of pets.

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".

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

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According to the CDC, symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, extreme weakness and, depending on the type of plague, skin discoloration, swollen and painful lymph nodes, or pneumonia. "Wear insect repellent, long trousers and socks when visiting plague affected areas".

The disease, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is often associated with the "Black Death" epidemic that was spread by rats and killed millions in medieval Europe. Earlier this week, laboratory test results came back that confirmed it was a case of bubonic plague - the most common of the three forms of the disease.

Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles and lots with tall grasses and weeds. It can also be transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected animals or their fleas.

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

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