Colorado child survives bubonic plague

Seven-year-old Sierra Jane Downing from Pagosa Springs, Colo., is pushed in a wheel chair by a nurse following a news conference about her recovery from Bubonic Plague at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Denver. It is believed Downing caught the Bubonic Plague from burying a dead squirrel. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

September 6, 2012 3:36:59 PM PDT
A seven-year-old Colorado girl is recovering from that state's first case of bubonic plague in six years.

Sierra Jane Downing contracted the disease while camping two weeks ago and coming in contact with a dead squirrel. At first, her parents and doctors thought Sierra just had the flu, but when she suffered a seizure and her temperature hit 107 degrees, they knew it was something worse.

"The high fever to 107, the bug bites, the exposure to the dead squirrel and the swollen lymph nodes, I started doing some research and I actually found a case report of a teenagers who symptoms fit Sierra's exactly, and that was my a-ha moment, could this be usenia, or bubonic plague," said Dr. Snow, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

The doctors quickly treated Sierra with antibiotics, and that did the trick. She's getting better.

The plague wiped out nearly half of Europe in the 14th century. It's spread through insect bites.

Health officials say there have been two other confirmed plague cases in the U.S. this year, in Oregon and New Mexico.


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