An Oregon resident has been infected with the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015, health officials said last week. The resident was likely infected with plague by their symptomatic pet cat, Deschutes County Health Services said in a news release on Wednesday.
Dr. Richard Fawcett, the Deschutes County health officer, emphasized that all close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness. The case was identified and treated in the earlier stages, minimizing the risk to the community. No additional cases of plague have emerged during the investigation.
The bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis and can progress into more severe forms like septicemic plague or pneumonic plague. The last case of human plague in Oregon was reported in 2015, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Humans typically show symptoms of the plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms include fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes. The disease can be transmitted through bites or contact with infected fleas or animals.
In Central Oregon, officials warned that squirrels and chipmunks are common carriers of bubonic plague, although mice and other rodents can also spread the disease. To prevent the spread of the plague, residents are advised to avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick or dead rodents, to protect themselves and their pets.
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