The Plague Is Back: Idaho Child Shows Symptoms of the Rare Disease

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The last plague cases in Idaho happened back in 1992.

On 12 June, a public health advisory was issued after a child was diagnosed with plague. The Central District Health Department stated that the child from Elmore County is now on antibiotics and recovering. The department added that the child might have contracted the disease during a trip to Oregon, but it wasn’t yet confirmed.

Since 1990, in Oregon, there have been eight human cases and two in Idaho. The recent cases of plague in Idaho were found in squirrels, but this year, none of the cases were in Elmore County or southern Ada County.

The Child Poses No Risk to Others

Central District Health Department Epidemiologist Sarah Correll stated a few recommendations for the public:

“Plague is spread to humans through a bite from an infected flea. People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife. Wear insect repellant, long pants and socks when visiting plague affected areas.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that plague is now a rare disease among humans and transmission from a person to another is highly unlikely, so the child does not pose a risk to others.

Symptoms of plague would appear two-six days after getting infected. People can experience fever, chills, headaches, and swelling of lymph nodes under the armpit. If not quickly treated, it can cause serious illness and is fatal.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare stated some other symptoms we can see in both humans and pets, and they also issued measures to reduce the risk of contracting the disease:

“In most cases, there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas. In some cases, rapidly developing signs of pneumonia — shortness of breath, chest pain, cough — can occur. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite, with possible swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. Cats with plague pneumonia can give it to people.”


If you’ve been in a plague-endemic area and develop sudden and severe fever, consult a doctor.

Keep the backyard clean and place woodpiles, hay or compost piles away from rodents.

Do not feed rodents in the outdoors. Do not touch the sick or dead ones.

All pet food and water should be kept somewhere where wild animals or rodents can’t have access.

Keep pets from roaming and hunting squirrels or other rodents.

Use flea products on pets – check with a veterinarian for an appropriate product.

Take sick pets to the vet, especially if they were in contact with sick or dead rodents close to the desert areas south and east of Boise.

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.