March 4, 2024 11:35 am
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 individual was likely infected by a symptomatic pet cat, Deschutes County officials announced last week. Despite this, the case was caught early and poses little risk to the community. No additional cases have been reported.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bubonic plague is caused by a bacteria found in small mammals and their fleas. This disease is the most common form of plague and can be spread through the bite of an infected flea or contact with an infected animal. Squirrels and chipmunks are most commonly known to carry the disease in Central Oregon, but health officials emphasize that mice and other rodents can also carry it.

Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea, including fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague, a bloodstream infection, or pneumonic plague, a lung infection if not diagnosed early. Both forms are more severe and difficult to treat than the typical form of bubonic plague.

To prevent spreading this disease further, Deschutes County health officials urged people to avoid contact with sick or dead rodents while outdoors. They also recommended keeping pets on leashes while outside and using flea control products on them regularly. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to bubonic plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents whenever possible by health officials.

Plague was first introduced to the United States by rat-infested steamships that arrived in 1900 from Asia via San Francisco Bay according to CDC records. Most cases are reported in parts of New Mexico, Arizona

Leave a Reply