Bubonic Plague Strikes Seven-Year-Old Girl

child hospital iv

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. 

Looking for more parenting news? Read our other Buzzworthy Bulletins

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Bubonic Plague Strikes Seven-Year-Old Girl

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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  1. Profile photo of TraciCupp TraciCupp says:

    and this children is why you get vaccinated

  2. Profile photo of TinkFL TinkFL says:

    I was watching a tv show about bizarre ER cases last night and one story was about a couple who contacted the plague in Arizona. Apparently, according to the program, or happens mostly in the western U.S.

  3. A bit scary! Something else to worry about among the huge list of things we already have to worry about. Thank goodness it is very rare.

  4. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    I would have to read this right before we are going camping this weekend!! That’s scary that this is still possible! So glad the girl is going to be fine though

  5. Yes, Black Plague is still possible. 🙁 But I’m glad she’s okay!

  6. Profile photo of Angela Angela says:

    Holy moly… on top of all the 1,000s of things I have to worry about as a new mom I now can add this to the list? Thanks. I think I may just put my daughter in a bubble until she’s 30! 🙁

  7. Profile photo of Mom2two12 Mom2two12 says:

    Wow!! Glad she is okay.

  8. Profile photo of Mommy:Ana Mommy:Ana says:

    I don’t know you could even get that


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