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Oregon Confirms First Case of Bubonic Plague Since 2015: What You Need to Know

ByEditor

Feb 13, 2024
Health officials say Oregon resident likely contracted bubonic plague from a cat

In Oregon, health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The person “was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat,” Deschutes County officials said in a statement issued last week. No additional cases have been reported and the case was caught early, posing “little risk to the community.”

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. In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks most often carry the disease, but health officials said that mice and other rodents can also carry plague.

Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after a person is exposed to an infected animal or flea and include fever, headache, chills, weakness and one or more swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes. Bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague, a bloodstream infection, or pneumonic plague, a lung infection if it’s not diagnosed early. Both forms are more severe and difficult to treat than typical symptoms.

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 from rodents. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible, health officials said.

The first case of bubonic plague was introduced to the U.S by rat-infested steamships that sailed to the country in 1900 according to CDC numbers which show that about seven new cases are reported each year mainly involving the bubonic form of

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