• Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Rare Bubonic Plague Confirmed in Oregon: Pet Cats and Fleas Blamed for Transmission


Feb 13, 2024
Health officials say Oregon resident likely contracted bubonic plague from a cat

Health officials in Oregon have recently confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The individual was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat, according to Deschutes County officials. The case was caught early and poses little risk to the community, with no additional cases reported. All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness, county health officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said Wednesday.

Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected flea or contact with an infected animal. In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks most often carry the disease. However, health officials noted that mice and other rodents can also carry it. Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea and include fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes. If left untreated, bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague or pneumonic plague – both of which are more severe forms of the disease that are difficult to treat.

To prevent the spread of this disease, health officials advised people to avoid contact with rodents – including those that are sick, injured or dead – as well as keeping pets on leashes while outdoors and using flea control products to reduce the likelihood of pets getting fleas. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to bubonic plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible

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