Bubonic Plague case details prove elusive
Boy Scout visited area in summer of 2008
by Wyoming Department of Health
October 13, 2008
Wyoming Department of Health officials said the follow up investigation and tests involving a bubonic plague case this summer in an out-of-state resident who visited Teton County and Yellowstone National Park yielded no definitive results.
The individual traveled to multiple sites in the area with a group of Boy Scouts from July 26 to August 3 and was involved in a combination of activities such as working on an outdoors service project, camping, sightseeing and participating in sports.
"Not surprisingly, the exact location where the young man was exposed to the disease could not be determined," said Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health. "He was active in a number of places where exposure could have occurred."
"The follow up investigation and testing did not reveal significant animal die-offs or other specific evidence of increased plague activity in the locations the Boy Scout visited," Murphy said.
After the case was reported, Wyoming Department of Health staff participated in an environmental investigation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This summerís human plague case was the sixth thought to be acquired in Wyoming since 1978. Other recorded Wyoming cases include a 1978 Washakie County case, a 1982 Laramie County case, a 1992 Sheridan County case that resulted in death, a 2000 Washakie County case and a 2004 Goshen County case.
Dr. Karl Musgrave, state public health veterinarian with the Wyoming Department of Health, said that while the risk for humans to contract plague is relatively low in Wyoming, the disease has been documented in animals in 22 of Wyoming's 23 counties since records were kept.
"Itís safe to assume that the risk for plague exists all around Wyoming," Musgrave said. "And while the disease is rare in humans, it is important that people take common-sense precautions to reduce their exposure." For more information on this incident contact: Kim Deti, 307-777-6420.