An Oregon resident has contracted the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015, according to health officials. The resident is believed to have possibly contracted the disease from their cat, according to Deschutes County Health Services.
Bubonic plague can progress to the more severe and harder-to-treat septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection) if not diagnosed early. Officials assured the community that there is little risk of this since the case was identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. There were no additional cases of plague that emerged during the infectious disease investigation.
The last case of human plague in Oregon was reported in 2015, and officials reminded the public that people usually start showing symptoms of plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include the sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Humans can become infected by being bitten or by contact with infected fleas or animals. In Central Oregon, officials warned that chipmunks are the most common animals that carry bubonic plague, although mice and other rodents can also transmit the disease. Officials recommend that residents and pets avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured or dead rodents, to prevent the spread of plague.