Skip to comments.7-year-old girl contracts bubonic plague, has seizure and 107-degree fever, but survives
Posted on 09/07/2012 3:05:44 PM PDT by BenLurkin
DENVER -- The parents of 7-year-old Sierra Jane Downing thought she had the flu when she felt sick days after camping in southwest Colorado.
It wasn't until she had a seizure that her father knew something was seriously wrong and rushed her to a hospital in their town of Pagosa Springs.
"I didn't know what was going on. I just reacted," Sean Downing said. "I thought she died."
An emergency room doctor who saw Sierra Jane for the seizure and a 107-degree fever late Aug. 24 wasn't sure what the cause was either and called other hospitals before the girl was flown to Denver.
There, a pediatric doctor at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children racing to save Sierra Jane's life got the first inkling that she had bubonic plague. Dr. Jennifer Snow suspected the disease based on the girl's symptoms, a history of where she'd been, and an online journal's article on a teen with similar symptoms.
Dr. Wendi Drummond, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital, agreed and ordered a specific antibiotic for Sierra Jane while tests were run, later confirming their rare diagnosis.
It was the first bubonic plague case Snow and her colleagues had seen.
"I credit them for thinking outside the box," said Dr. Tracy Butler, medical director of the hospital's pediatric intensive unit.
The bubonic plague hasn't been confirmed in a human in Colorado since 2006, when four cases were reported.
Federal health officials say they are aware of two other confirmed and one probable case of plague in the U.S. so far this year -- an average year. The other confirmed cases were in New Mexico and Oregon, and the probable case also was in Oregon. None died.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailynews.com ...
Carried by fleas on rodents, such as prairie dogs.
I thought this went away 100 years ago.
Nope. There’s lots of places it’s still around. A few in southern AZ. If you go hiking in the right parts of the country you’ll see signs that say if you get flu like symptoms in the next two weeks go straight to your doctor and say “black plague”.
But is there a vaccine for it?
Thanks for the info.
Isn’t it highly infectious?
Something tells me it has the potential to wipe out half of Europe? It could kill peasants, nobles, kings and aEmperorer or two.
It is something that pops up out West every so often.
An don't get me started about India.
There is no vaccine. It’s caused by the bacterium, Yersinia Pestis which is carried by fleas. It is treated with antibiotics (cipro, doxycycline, etc). Prairie dogs are the main carrier of the Y. Pestis infected fleas in the west/southwest.
A certain percentage of humans are immune to ebola.
> But is there a vaccine for it?
Sure there is. I received the vaccine in 1970 along with 2 other GIs. We needed to get our immunizations updated before we could go on R&R. All 3 of us wound up in the Vung Tau Airfield Hospital with plague. They gave us penicillin for the first week and it had no effect. They changed to streptomycin after that and it cured us. I spend 24 days in the hospital.
Who will be the first to blame the Jews?
**** and rushed her to a hospital in their town of Pagosa Springs. ****
There is a hospital in Pagosa Springs? When I lived there the nearest hospital was Durango or Farmington NM.
Pagosa only had a temporary clinic.
The scary part, to me, is the massive overuse of antibiotics both here and in South and East Asia where all kinds of antibiotics are sold over the counter in pharmacies. There will soon be nothing to treat the drug resistant strain. Bubonic Plague included.
I still have my vaccine booklet from 1968. It shows I received plague vaccine before deploying to Asia. I had no problems with it.
Yep. I got the Bubonic Plague vaccine before going to Korea in ‘95. Along with Japanese Encephilitis and a whole bunch of other shots for stuff I’ve never heard of...
Despite Texas having the worst drought in recent history last summer and still barely any rain this summer, the mosquitoes are horrendous these days. You simply can't go outside in the evenings.
Risk/Reward is out of balance. Same reason they don't vaccinate for Smallpox anymore.
When I saw the word camping, the first thing I thought was tick borne illness. They didn’t mention ticks in the article. Ticks carry over 10 diseases, with Lyme being the number one vector- borne disease in the country.
Take a wild guess!
I knew a guy who got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and darned near died of it because none of his doctors recognized it - he survived because an ancient, long-overdue-for-retirement doctor happened to wander by in the hospital, took a quick look at him, and said to the other doctors “You morons, he’s got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - look at the brown spots on his hands”.
He got a dose of the appropriate antibiotic, and was fine in a few days.
There's a reason there aren't many black footed ferrets in NW Colorado - they were prime hosts to the fleas that carry plague. Also, bunnies aren't considered safe 'till after a good hard freeze, when the fleas drop off.
There are cases of the plague here occasionally; as long as your doc has been out of med school for a few years you have a good chance of surviving.
Plague vaccines ** have been used since the late 19th century, but their effectiveness has never been measured precisely. Field experience indicates that vaccination with plague vaccine reduces the incidence and severity of disease resulting from the bite of infected fleas. The degree of protection afforded against primary pneumonic infection is not known. Persons exposed to plague patients who have pneumonia or to Yersinia pestis *** aerosols in the laboratory should be given a 7- to 10-day course of antimicrobic therapy regardless of vaccination history. Recommended antimicrobials include tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, or streptomycin.
The plague vaccine licensed for use in the United States is prepared from Y. pestis organisms grown in artificial media, inactivated with formaldehyde, and preserved in 0.5% phenol. The vaccine contains trace amounts of beef-heart extract, yeast extract, agar, and peptones and peptides of soya and casein.
Serum antibody to Fraction I capsular antigen, as measured by the passive hemagglutination (PHA) test, is correlated with resistance to Y. pestis infection in experimental animals. A comparable correlation between PHA titer and immunity probably occurs in humans.
Following the primary series of 3 injections, about 7% of individuals do not produce PHA antibody, and a few fail to develop a titer of 128, the level correlated with immunity in experimental animals. PHA titers should be determined for individuals who have an unusually high risk of infection or who have a history of serious reactions to the vaccine in order to govern the frequency of booster doses. Such testing can be arranged through state health departments. Since plague vaccination may only ameliorate illness, whenever a vaccinated person has a definite exposure, prophylactic antibiotics may be indicated whether or not an antibody response has been demonstrated.
I had a Plague shot and had no problem with it. Same with millions of others.
I had both plague and cholera shots in the Army. Both made me sick as a dog.
This story mirrors my own experience when my then 12YO daughter had bubonic plague. It does present with flu-like symptoms and by the time a blood culture result is in (3 days) the patient is dead.
Thankfully, my daughter made it but if you have bites, high fever and flu symptoms...think plague!!
Many diseases are like that. Common childhood diseases like measles could once cause pandemics. Leprosy was once much more virulent than it is today.
There is a good book I read some time ago on the subject called, "Allies and Enemies-How the World Depends on Bacteria" by Anne Maczulak.
The only one that got me, IIRC, was Yellow Fever (not all that bad, fever for a night each time).
I’m taking a college course now on the Dark Ages. It’s intriguing how it shaped history by killing off some and leaving others to lead in their place.
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