Health officials in Central Oregon have confirmed a case of human bubonic plague, marking the state’s first human case in over eight years. The individual, who resides in Deschutes County, was likely infected by a domestic house cat. Deschutes County Health Services officers announced the case, stating that all close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness.
The disease, which is spread through the air and contaminated food, is believed to have been transmitted by a pet cat that exhibited symptoms of the plague. The infected person received treatment during the early stages of the disease, posing little risk to the community.
No other cases of the plague have been reported as of last week. The last confirmed case in Oregon was reported in 2015.
Symptoms of bubonic plague typically appear two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea. These symptoms include sudden fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and visibly swollen lymph nodes. If not diagnosed early, bubonic plague can progress to bloodstream and lung infections, which can be difficult to treat and may result in death.
To prevent the spread of plague, health experts recommend avoiding contact with rodents and fleas, keeping pets on a leash and using flea control products, discouraging pet cats from hunting rodents, and avoiding camping or resting near animal burrows or areas where dead rodents are found. Additionally, it is advised not to feed wild rodents such as squirrels or chipmunks.