In what is only the fifth case of bubonic plague in humans in the state of Idaho, the diagnosis of a child with the disease is sparking concerns. The unidentified child, who lives in Elmore County, is recovering from the bacterial infection.
According to WCVB 5, an ABC affiliate, Central District Health Department epidemiologists say it is not known whether the child was exposed to plague in Idaho or during a recent trip to the state of Oregon. Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in the Gem State (Idaho). The last two reported cases occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering.
But the plague was common in Madagascar toward the end of last year. That outbreak was the worst in Madagascar in 50 years. Between August 1, 2017, and October 30, 2017, there were a total of 1801 probable and suspected cases of plague, including 127 deaths, as reported by the Ministry of Health of Madagascar to World Health Organization.
The plague, also known as the “Black Death,” is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. Of course, now, modern medicine has given rise to antibiotics, which are effective in treating plague. However, without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. The United States is also facing an anti-biotics resistance in those who have taken the drugs often in the past.
It is inevitable that each drug will lose its ability to kill disease-causing bacteria over time, says Marc Sprenger, the Director of the World Health Organization’s secretariat for antimicrobial resistance. This is because bacteria, through natural selection and genetic adaptation, become resistant to antibiotics. Essentially, bacteria, like most living things, evolve for survival.
The best way to prepare for any superbug (a bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics) is to prevent the human body from contracting an infection and therefore, from rejecting antibiotic medications.–Ready Nutrition
Epidemiologists say this particular case serves as a reminder that the plague is still dangerous and infectious to both humans and their pets, but the disease should not discourage recreationists from enjoying Idaho’s outdoors. People can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas, and rodent carcasses. Do not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents.
So basically, don’t play with dead things. But you should also consider trying to keep your pets from roaming and hunting ground squirrels or other rodents in affected desert areas and talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs or children. Sick pets should be immediately examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents and live in close proximity to humans.
See your doctor if you have any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever after being in a plague-endemic area. Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles, and put hay, wood, and compost piles as far away as possible and don’t leave any pet food or water where rodents or other wild animals can access them.
Signs and symptoms of the bacterial infection often creep up within just a few hours after infection and include a bloody cough, difficulty breathing, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, and weakness. If it is not treated quickly, pneumonic plague is almost always fatal.