Oregon Officials Confirm Bubonic Plague in Resident

(RepublicanReport.org) – Oregon just confirmed its first case of bubonic plague since 2015, leading health officials to remind residents of the potential threat. Deschutes County leaders don’t believe their community is at risk, and the individual who contracted the bacterial disease has received treatment. Still, locals — as well as people living throughout the western portion of the United States — should be aware of the plague’s continued presence and take measures to avoid exposure.

OregonLive reports that the recent case appears to be the result of the resident’s cat catching this disease from a rodent and passing it on to their owner. The main way the plague spreads is through infected fleas, but the insects aren’t common in central Oregon, so the cat probably contracted it by attacking and/or eating infected prey. Emily Horton, who works for Deschutes County Health Services, warned locals to keep their pets away from all wild rodents, including squirrels and mice, which are among the disease’s main carriers.

The cat had reportedly been showing symptoms before becoming gravely ill and dying. Newsmax adds that the human who also contracted the plague was treated in the disease’s early stages and isn’t likely to pose any additional risks. All other individuals who may have come in contact with the infection have received precautionary antibiotics to prevent potential infections.

The CDC states that the plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. Oregon, California, and the Four Corners states have the highest instances of infections, with New Mexico being the hardest hit. Symptoms depend on the form of the disease, but all cases cause fever, chills, and weakness, starting roughly 2 to 8 days after exposure.

Bubonic plague causes painfully enlarged lymph nodes, whereas the septicemic form leads to internal bleeding and shock. Both are usually transmitted by infected flea bites. Pneumonic plague, the most serious form, spreads through droplets in the air and infects the lungs, passing easily between people. All forms are treatable with antibiotics, but an estimated 8% to 10% of people who catch the plague still die from the disease.

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