A case of plague has emerged in Idaho – here is why the disturbing disease continues to reappear



  • A child in Idaho recently caught plague, according to a statement from Central District Health of Idaho
  • . People still get the plague every year, usually after coming in contact with fleas that transmit the plague.
  • There are some cases every year in the USA. UU And more in other parts of the world.

A child in Elmore County, Idaho, has been diagnosed with plague, according to a statement from Central District Health in Idaho.

This plague case, like others that appear rarely but with some regularity, is the same disease that was responsible for the medieval Middle Ages "Black Death." The plague remains a serious and life-threatening bacterial disease. But fortunately, if it is detected early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics.

The Idaho child is recovering after receiving treatment, according to the health department. Authorities are not sure if the child was exposed to the disease in Idaho or on a recent trip to Oregon.

There are some cases of plague every year in the USA. UU., Mainly in the rural west and especially in the southwest. The Health Statement of the Central Idaho District said that since 1990, there have been two cases in Idaho and eight in Oregon. However, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, there was a plague outbreak south of Boise from 2015 to 2016 that affected the animals.

In recent years, some cases of plague have been reported annually in New Mexico as well.

How the plague spreads

The plague is transmitted by fleas carrying the bacterium Yersinia pestis that can cause the three forms of plague: bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic. Flea bites spread bubonic or septicemic plague, both of which cause fever and weakness. Bubonic plague produces painfully inflamed lymph nodes, while septicemic plague occurs when the infection enters the blood and causes the skin and tissues to turn black and die. It can appear by itself or develop from the bubonic plague.

Without treatment, patients may develop pneumonic plague, the most severe form of the disease, which is passed from person to person when infected people cough up tiny drops in the air.

 cdc pest map CDC

Most of the time, people are exposed to the plague when they or their pets approach wild or dead animals that carry fleas that are guests of Yersinia pestis bacteria.

"People can lower their risk
by treating their pets by fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife," said Sarah Correll, epidemiologist at the
Central District Health Department, in the statement on the infected child.

Still, the USA. UU They only receive a handful of cases, usually between one and 17 each year. When a case arises in the USA UU., Disease detectives try to find every person an infected individual comes in contact with.

Plague is a major problem in places that have more difficulty shutting out outbreaks due to lack of infrastructure, humanitarian crises, or ongoing conflicts, according to the World Health Organization. Those outbreaks, like a recent serious one in Madagascar, can become more dangerous.

Why the plague persists

In the populations of wild rodents that harbor the bacteria, the plague can thrive for a long time before humans come into contact with it. 19659069] Ken Gage, a researcher focused on vector-borne diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NPR in 2014 that there are a number of rodents in the western United States that are susceptible to the plague . That list includes rats, field mice and ground squirrels, all of which can be found in Idaho. In rural areas with semi-arid forests and grasslands, these animals transmit the disease to each other.

"What we see in the West here is that the fleas will crawl to the entrance of the burrow and wait for a guest to pass," Gage told NPR. "If they get infected with another rodent they can live in, then they have succeeded, but they can also jump on humans, or on dogs, or coyotes, or cats, which are not the right guests, but unfortunately those animals he can be bitten by fleas and get the plague. "

In the 1400s, approximately 50 million people died because of the Black Death. Plague remains one of the most terrifying infectious diseases that exist, with a mortality rate between 30% and 60% if left untreated. But, fortunately, antibiotics make it possible to treat most cases now. Between 2010 and 2015, there were around 584 deaths per plague around the world.

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