Plague Cases Reported in United States

Sick woman with headache sitting under the blanket

( – The first case of bubonic plague since 2015 has been detected in Oregon according to local health officials. A press release from Deschutes County Health Services said that the individual, whose name was not released, was likely infected by a symptomatic pet cat.

The individual, their family, and the cat are all being treated for the illness which was caught in its early stages before becoming more serious and infectious, according to Dr. Richard Fawcett who is the leading health official for Deschutes County.

Authorities added that there was little reason to be concerned about further spread as the infection was stopped quickly. They additionally made sure no other locals had reported symptoms in the same period.

Without treatment, bubonic plague can progress into a severe and deadly disease that becomes progressively more difficult to treat successfully. Septicemic plague occurs when the infection begins to rapidly destroy blood cells, whereas pneumonic plague attacks lung tissue.

Symptoms occur within two to eight days of infection and include rapid-onset fever, lethargy, body ache, chills, and the appearance of “buboes” or very swollen lymph nodes. Humans can catch this bacterial illness by close association with animals as the bacteria lives in fleas naturally.

To avoid exposure, health officials advise pet owners to keep their animals away from rats, mice, or other vermin. Humans acquire the infection from a flea bite, so proper pet care in the form of a flea and tick collar can safely keep the insects off your furry friend.

In Oregon, the disease is mostly carried by squirrels, chipmunks, and the insects that inhabit them, though other rodents can carry the illness. The press release from Oregon officials included advice to keep animals away from dead or injured rodents to avoid the fleas hopping onto your pet. They also advise careful scrutiny of campsites to make sure there are no nearby animal burrows, as the insects could hop onto you while you sleep outdoors.

Plague hasn’t been reported in Oregon since 2015, according to Oregon health authorities.

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