When a child in Idaho had a spiking fever, his parents rushed him in to a health care provider this week and were surprised to learn that he had an unlikely case of the bubonic plague.
The child, who has not been identified, is from the north-west state of Idaho, according to reports.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued a news release Tuesday afternoon saying the child is recovering from the bacterial disease.
Human infection cases in the United States are relatively rare.
Human symptoms of plague usually appear within two to six days of contact and include fever, chills, headaches and often a swelling of lymph nodes under the armpit, the Central District Health Department said.
In the US, the areas where the plague is more common include northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern OR and western Nevada.
As for humans, the bacteria is most commonly transmitted through flea bites, especially since pets can bring the infected fleas inside. Since 1990, there have been two cases of plague in humans in Idaho and eight in Oregon.More news: Raccoon captivates internet with Minnesota skyscraper climb - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona
Untreated, patients can develop pneumonic plague, the most serious form of the disease, which spreads from person to person when infected people cough tiny droplets into the air.
Still, the U.S. only gets a handful of cases - usually between one and 17 every year.
Plague is a bigger problem in places that have a harder time shutting down outbreaks due to a lack of infrastructure, humanitarian crises, or ongoing conflicts, according to the World Health Organization. "Wear insect repellent, long trousers and socks when visiting plague affected areas".
Bubonic plague, also known as the "black death," swept Europe in the Middle Ages, killing millions of people.
About seven people in the USA are infected every year, usually after being bitten by a flea or infected animal, according to the CDC.
Clean up areas near your home where rodents could live.
- Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria.
Talk to your veterinarian about flea control for your pets before venturing out to ground squirrel areas, and follow the directions on the label.