Denver (KUSA) -- Days into a hospital stay, Sierra Jane Downing, 7, asked her parents why she was still hospitalized. She was convinced she merely had the flu.
"She told me, 'Mommy, this is just the flu. Can't we go home?'" Darcy Downing said Wednesday.
It wasn't the flu. Instead, Sierra Jane had become the first person to be diagnosed with bubonic plague in Colorado in six years.
"I guess when I first heard the word 'plague,' I was pretty amazed and taken aback," Sean Downing, Darcy's husband, said.
A week and a half later, Sierra Jane remains at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. Both her parents and her doctors remain optimistic she'll be able to leave soon.
The fact that the outcome is this promising is a testament, said her parents, to the quick work of the doctors at the hospital. It's thought the girl was exposed to the bacteria while trying to bury a dead squirrel at the Cimarrona Campground near Pagosa Springs.
When she first went to see a doctor in Pagosa Springs on Aug. 24, she had a temperature of 107 and had just suffered a seizure.
"It's rare to see a 107 degree temperature. I remember speaking to the physician (by phone). I think I asked him three times, 107?" Dr. Jennifer Snow said during a Wednesday news conference at the hospital.
Snow was the one who told the doctor in Pagosa Springs to immediately send the girl to Denver via Airlife.
"Honestly, I fell to my knees and said, 'God, if there is an answer, please show me. And he came up with it," Darcy Downing said.
Bubonic plague was not immediately suspected when the girl arrived in Denver, but Snow was able to eventually confirm her suspicions with Dr. Wendi Drummond, an infectious disease expert at Presbyterian/St. Luke's.
"We both discussed it on the phone," Drummond said. "It's a weird case. It's just a weird case."
Sierra Jane , whose parents said she remains exhausted, chose not to talk during Wednesday's news conference.
Her parents also said they're glad the doctor in Pagosa Springs was persistent when he chose to seek out the advice of other hospitals.
"Most of the hospitals (he called) were just saying that she would be fine. Just keep her there. Keep her on watch and she'll be fine," Sean Downing said. "But this hospital said, 'Nah, we're coming to get her.'"