Officials puzzled after Idaho boy contracts the plague


A child in Idaho contracted the plague — and authorities aren’t sure where he was exposed to the extremely rare and potentially killer disease.

The unidentified child from Elmore County could have become infected in his home state or during a recent trip to Oregon, the Central District Health Department said in a statement on Tuesday. The young patient is recovering, according to officials, who didn’t release the child’s gender or age.

The disease, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is often associated with the “Black Death” epidemic that was spread by rats and killed millions in medieval Europe. This strain of bacteria still occurs naturally in some rodent populations, spread by fleas in rats and squirrels, but is exceedingly rare in humans.

Occasionally some humans do get infected with Yersinia pestis, usually through a flea or animal bite, according to Person-to-person transmission is extremely rare, and wasn’t a factor in this case, officials said.

The last urban plague epidemic in the US happened in Los Angeles in 1924, when 30 people died, and since then, the disease has been scattered in rural areas on the west side of the country.

Read more at the NY Post