Girl recovering after plague

Sept. 6, 2012 at 5:17 PM
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DENVER, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A 7-year-old Colorado girl is recovering after being infected with the bubonic plague, officials said.

Sierra Jane Downing, a Girl Scout, was bitten by fleas that were feasting on a dead squirrel she was looking over while picnicking with her parents near Pagosa Springs several weeks ago, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

About five days after the picnic, Sierra Jane woke up with a fever. She was taken to the Pagosa Springs emergency room where her fever reached 107 and she had seizures.

Doctors at the ER called other doctors around the state for their expertize in the odd combination of Sierra Jane's symptoms, which included septic shock, seizures, an extremely high temperature and swollen lymph nodes in the thigh. Dr. Jennifer Snow, on call in intensive care at the Rocky Mountain Children's hospital in Denver, urged the girl's transport to Denver.

Snow did some research and concluded the girl was suffering from the plague.

Darcy Downing, Sierra's mother, said she was relieved when she heard her daughter had the plague.

"Good, we're getting an answer. Plague can be fought," she said.

Sierra Jane was then put on antibiotics and has been making a slow recovery. She may be released within the next few days.

Officials said there are five to six reported cases of the bubonic plague in the United States every year.

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