First human case of plague since 1992 found in Elmore County

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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — An Elmore County child is the first with a confirmed human case of plague in the state since 1992.

Olha Schedrina / The Natural History Museum / (CC BY 4.0): Flea under a microscope

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued a news release Tuesday afternoon saying the child is recovering from the bacterial disease.

Central District Health Department epidemiologists are unsure if the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to Oregon. Plague has been found in wildlife in both states.

The health department reminds southern Idaho recreationists that plague is dangerous to people and pets and for people to be aware of what to look for when in the Idaho outdoors.

Plague is a bacterial disease found in rodents that is transmitted through the bites of infected fleas and can cause serious illness to people and pets if not treated quickly, according to the news release. People can reduce the chance of encountering plague by avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses.

Plague was identified in 2015 and 2016 in ground squirrels found in the desert south of Interstate 84 in Ada County. Since those discoveries, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, public health districts and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have been working to raise awareness of plague in the area each year.

For more plague public health information:
DHW Blog: Spring is plague awareness season
• General overview of plague from the Centers for Disease Control
CDC plague FAQs
Protect Yourself From Plague fact sheet

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