7 year old Colorado girl catches bubonic plague from fleas on dead squirrel.

Sierra Jane Downing

A seven year girl is out of intensive care and now recovering in hospital after having contracted the bubonic plague whilst on a camping trip in which she was exposed to a dead squirrel with fleas emanating from it. Fleas are common transmitters of the plague.

Suffering from a rapid heart beat, low blood pressure and a fever, as well as experiencing a seizure, Sierra Jane Downing‘s parents rushed their daughter to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for children, Colorado before she was flown by helicopter to Presbyterian St Luke’s Medical center in Denver when the girl’s situation was fully diagnosed.

Offered treating doctors, Dr Wendi Drummond and Dr Jennifer Snow:

‘She had a high heart rate and low blood pressure. It all originally pointed to signs of what’s called septic shock.’

Further examination then revealed the unimaginable, that the girl had contracted the bubonic plague, a disease that once wiped out some 25 million people in the 14th century in Europe.

Offered Dr Snow: ‘You learn about it in medical school during microbiology, but I had never seen a case of it before.’

“You learn about it in medical school during microbiology, but I had never seen a case of it before,” Dr. Snow told 9 News. “It’s one of those things that you don’t necessarily expect to see. But, it’s definitely one of those things you don’t want to miss.”

Sierra Downing was given gentamicin, an antibiotic, but her status continued to plummet for two days before she began responding to treatment. Nearly two-thirds of victims who do not receive a proper regime of treatment and medication typically die within four days.

It’s understood that only a handful of cases get reported each year in the United States which suggests that for as much as science has managed to combat it, the legacy of the bubonic plague has hardly left the human race which to date has paid a terrible toll to it.