Seven-year-old girl contracts bubonic plague on Colorado camping trip

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Pictured here is Sierra Jane Downing, a seven-year-old from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, alive and recovering after briefly succumbing to a nasty little bug by the name of bubonic plague. Have you heard of it? Of course you have — but you probably didn't know people still contracted it.

A few days after returning from a camping trip, where doctors believe Sierra was likely to have contracted the plague, her temperature soared to 107 degrees, driving her body to seizure. And her parents originally thought was a nasty case of flu. The AP's Catherine Tsai reports:

The Downings eventually learned their daughter was ill with one of the last things they would've thought: bubonic plague, a disease that wiped out one-third of Europe in the 14th century but is now exceedingly rare-it hasn't been confirmed in Colorado since 2006-and treatable if caught early.


According to federal health officials, there have only been two other confirmed cases of bubonic plague this year (one in New Mexico, the other in Oregon), and one probable case (again in Oregon). None of the incidences were fatal, and 2—3 cases is actually pretty much par for the bubonic course in the U.S. on any given year:

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that a series of frightening illnesses linked to insects and pests have been surfacing lately across the country, including mosquito-borne West Nile virus outbreaks in Texas and other states, deadly hantavirus cases linked to Yosemite National Park, and some scattered plague cases.

But with some of the illnesses-like plague-this is not an unusually bad year.

Read more over at the Denver Post.

Top image via THE DENVER POST/RJ Sangosti