Someone in Idaho Has the Bubonic Plague Right Now

You read history books as a kid and you hear about something called the “Black Death” and it reminds you of how lucky you are to be living in a time that isn’t the Middle Ages. The bubonic plague wiped out 50 million people in the world during the 14th Century, including somewhere between 25 and 60% of the entire population of Europe (record keeping was spotty back then), and it’s a particularly nasty disease. And you think, “well, at least it’s 2018 and not 1350,” and while yes your knowledge of what year it is is correct, it doesn’t change the fact that the plague is still here, and one young boy in Idaho is being treated for it currently.

According to CBS News (via Teen Vogue), a boy is recovering from the disease currently, the first human case in the state of Idaho in 26 years. The report says it’s unclear if he picked up the disease in Idaho or during a recent vacation to Oregon. Eight cases of plague have occurred in Oregon since 1990 and two in Idaho.

The bubonic plague is characterized by buboes, or a swelling of the lymph nodes that can rupture if untreated. Scientists have determined the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which is usually found in small mammals and their fleas, and transmitted through bites or inhaling of infected respiratory droplets, which is a very gross phrase.

Luckily, despite wiping out millions a few hundred years ago, the plague is incredibly treatable today, and preventable in most cases. Around 650 cases are reported every year and of those, around 120 result in death. Most of these cases and deaths are found in Africa, which sadly still lacks access to basic medical preventative measures and treatments.

So no need to run for the hills or anything, but, yeah. The plague. Still a thing.

Image: Python (Monty) Pictures

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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