In Oregon, a resident has been infected with the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. According to Deschutes County Health Services, it is believed that the individual was likely infected by their cat. Officials have contacted all close contacts of the resident and their pet and provided medication to prevent illness.
The bubonic plague can progress to the more severe and difficult to treat septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection) if not diagnosed early. Despite this, health officials reassured the community that there is little risk since the case was identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. There have been no additional cases of plague that have emerged during the communicable disease investigation.
Humans typically begin to show symptoms of the plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Humans can be infected through bites or contact with infected fleas or animals. In Central Oregon, officials warned that the most common animals to carry bubonic plague are squirrels and chipmunks, though they noted that mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. Officials recommend that residents and pets avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured, or dead rodents, in order to prevent the spread of the plague.