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Idaho child recovering from plague

15 June 2018

Epidemiologists say this case serves as a reminder that plague is unsafe to people and pets, but the disease should not enourage recreationists from enjoying the Idaho outdoors.

Although globally people are still diagnosed with the disease, it's much more rare than it was in the 14th century, when a bubonic plague swept across Europe with a shockingly high death toll. People can reduce the chance of encountering plague by avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses.

Central District Health Department, said in the statement about the infected child. It's just the fifth case of plague in Idaho since 1940.

It is believed that the boy was diagnosed late last month and lab results confirmed that he had the bubonic plague, which affects the lymph nodes rather than the deadly pneumonic plague which affects the lungs.

The Idaho child is recovering after receiving treatment, according to the health department. No cases have been reported this year.

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The disease is most typically transmitted to humans from fleas who have bitten infected rodents. When a case does crop up in the U.S., disease detectives try to find every person an infected individual came into contact with.

Bubonic plague is the most common form and known for causing swollen lymph nodes or "buboes", according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Those outbreaks, like a recent severe one in Madagascar, can become more unsafe. This strain of bacteria still occurs naturally in some rodent populations, spread by fleas in rats and squirrels, but is exceedingly rare in humans.

Now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague". That list includes rats, voles, and ground squirrels, all of which can be found in Idaho.

The bacterial infection is rarely seen in humans, and is typically spread by animals or insects. It can also be transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected animals or their fleas.

Between 1346 and 1353, the plague, also called the Black Death, killed between 75 and 200 million people in European countries. Plague is still one of the scarier infectious diseases out there, with a mortality rate between 30% and 60% if untreated. Between 2010 and 2015, there were around 584 plague deaths around the world.

Idaho child recovering from plague