Bubonic Plague Strikes Seven-Year-Old Girl
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
It is likely that most readers will remember something about the bubonic plague, or a particular period of outbreak known as the Black Death. During that period, in the 14th century, the illness swept across European nations leaving a trail of death in its wake. An estimated 25 million people fell victim to the plague. The illness was usually transmitted via flea bites.
It is believed that it was via a flea bite that seven-year-old Sierra Jane Downing contracted the illness. Of course, that wasn’t back in the 14th century, it was just last month.
Sierra and her family were on a camping trip in Pagosa Springs, Colorado when the little girl found a dead squirrel in the woods. Intending to give the creature a proper burial, “She never touched the squirrel, but laid her jacket next to the dead squirrel, and the fleas looking for a new host might have jumped onto the jacket” according to hospital spokesperson, Angie Anania.
When symptoms initially appeared, the family thought she had the flu. When her temperature rose and she began having seizures, she was rushed to the emergency room. With a temperature spiking to 107 degrees Fahrenheit and swollen lymph nodes in her groin, doctors were able to reach a diagnosis and administer the appropriate antibiotics. She is improving, and may be discharged within the week.
Here, I’m worrying about the cases of strep throat that have been going around. I had NO idea that it was even possible to get the bubonic plague anymore! According to the CDC, “In recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases have been reported each year (range: 1–17 cases per year). Plague has occurred in people of all ages (infants up to age 96), though 50% of cases occur in people ages 12–45.”
Those numbers are admittedly small. Since the doctors involved had likely not seen a case of bubonic plague (the last confirmed case in Colorado was in 2006), it is certainly admirable that they were able to recognize her illness and continue with the appropriate treatment. Hopefully she’ll be back to playing soon – but avoiding dead squirrels!
Feeling a bit like a hypochondriac now? Check out common childhood illnesses here to ease your mind.
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What do you think?