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Oregon Confirms First Case of Bubonic Plague Since 2015: Health Officials Urge Caution

ByEditor

Feb 13, 2024
Health Officials in Oregon: Resident Likely Contracted Bubonic Plague from Cat – KIRO 7 News Seattle

Deschutes County officials in Oregon have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The person was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat, according to health officials. All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness, said county health officer Dr. Richard Fawcett.

Plague is caused by a bacteria found in small mammals and their fleas, according to the World Health Organization. Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease and can be spread through the bite of an infected flea or contact with an infected animal. Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after a person is exposed to an infected animal or flea, including fever, headache, chills, weakness and one or more swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes.

In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks most often carry the disease, but mice and other rodents can also carry plague. To prevent the spread of the plague, officials urged people to avoid contact with rodents, including those that are sick, injured or dead. They suggested keeping pets on leashes while outdoors and using flea control products to reduce the possibility that they get fleas. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible.

Health officials said that bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague, a bloodstream infection or pneumonic plague

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