"I had never seen it," confessed Dr. Jennifer Snow. "You learn about it in medical school during microbiology, but I had never seen a case of it before."
"It's one of those things that you don't necessarily expect to see," Dr. Wendi Drummond said. "But, it's definitely one of those things you don't want to miss."
Seven-year-old Sierra Jane Downing is continuing her remarkable recovery from the bubonic plague. Much of the credit should be directed toward both Dr. Snow and Dr. Drummond. The two diagnosed Downing after she arrived to Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center on a helicopter sent from Pagosa Springs.
"She originally presented with a temperature of 107 degrees," Dr. Drummond said. "She had also had a seizure."
"She had a high heart rate and low blood pressure," Dr. Snow added. "It all originally pointed to signs of what's called septic shock."
The more they investigated, the more they say they began to suspect the plague. It's a disease not recorded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since 2006.
Dr. Drummond told Dr. Snow to quickly administer the antibiotic gentamicin.
Downing's condition continued to deteriorate, but after two days she started to turn an important corner.
On Monday, Downing left the pediatric ICU. On Wednesday, the girl is expected to talk during a news conference scheduled at the hospital.
Both doctors believe Downing contracted the disease while on a camping trip near Pagosa Springs. Her parents told the doctors she had been around a dead squirrel. Fleas are common transmitters of the plague.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)