Bubonic Plague Case Confirmed in Oregon

Sick woman with headache sitting under the blanket

(USNewsMag.com) – Oregon has its first case of human bubonic plague since 2015, according to a statement from health officials.

The Deschutes County resident was most likely infected with the bubonic plague through contact with their symptomatic pet cat, according to a February 7th statement. Deschutes County health officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said anyone who had close contact with the resident or the cat was contacted and had received “medication to prevent illness.” The condition of the person and their pet is unknown.

Since the case was identified and treated quickly, there is little risk to the community, according to health officials, and no additional cases have been discovered.

Humans can become infected with the bubonic plague through bites or contact with infected fleas or animals. The most common animals known to carry bubonic plague in Central Oregon are squirrels and chipmunks, and people should not feed them. However, other rodents may be carriers of the disease.

Symptoms of the bubonic plague, such as fever, chills, nausea, muscle aches, weakness, and visibly swollen lymph nodes, begin within two to eight days of being exposed to the disease. If not treated early, the bubonic plague can worsen to become a bloodstream infection or a lung infection, both of which are more severe and difficult to treat.

To help prevent the bubonic plague from spreading, people and their pets should avoid coming into contact with rodents and fleas. People should use flea prevention products on their pets and keep them on a leash. If possible, cats should not be hunting rodents and should be taken to a vet if a cat gets sick after contact with a rodent. People and pets should not sleep near animal burrows or dead rodents.

The last time a person in Oregon contracted bubonic plague was in 2015 when a girl on a hunting trip contracted the disease from being bitten by a flea. Since 1995, only nine human cases of the bubonic plague have been reported in Oregon, with no deaths reported.

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