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Child In Idaho Diagnosed With The Plague: First Human Case In The State Since 1992

Jun 14, 2018 01:58 AM EDT

The "Black Death" hits Idaho as a young boy gets diagnosed and health officials confirm it as the first human case there since 1992.

Bubonic Plague In Idaho

While the child was not identified to the public, authorities say that he is from Elmore County and currently back home in recovery after being hospitalized for treatment with antibiotics.

Christine Myron, Idaho's Central District Health Department spokesperson, says that the boy fell ill in late May 2018 and laboratory tests confirmed his bubonic plague during the second week of June, Washington Post reports.

A report from CDHD reveals that it's still unknown if he was infected in Idaho or in Oregon, where he recently went on a trip to. Either way, it's important to protect one's self from possible exposure.

"Plague is spread to humans through a bite from an infected flea. People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife," Sarah Correll, D.V.M., a CDHD epidemiologist, advises. "Wear insect repellant, long pants and socks when visiting plague affected areas."

CDHD offers some of the ways to prevent infection: avoid touching, handling, and feeding rodents and their carcasses, keep pets from going off and hunting rodents, consult veterinarians for flea control, and don't feed or leave food for rodents.

The young child is just the fifth human to get the plague in Idaho since 1940, according to Idaho State Journal. The last two cases in 1991 and 1992 did not result in death and the patients were able to fully recover.

About The Bubonic Plague

CDC defines the plague as an infectious disease that affects rodents, certain animals, and humans. It's caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria, which is usually acquired from fleas or handling plague-ridden animals.

The bubonic plague, which is one of the three types of plague, is often identified by its symptoms: headache, fever, chills, and swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes called buboes. This infection usually comes from infected fleas.

The bacteria affects the lymph nodes closest to the where it entered, but it could spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

A recent study delved deeper into the history of the bubonic plague, discovering the earliest genomic evidence of the plague bacteria, according to Medical News Today. The scientists observed the genomes of two ancient people who died of the disease 3,800 years ago.

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