Officials in Oregon have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The resident is believed to have been infected by their cat, according to Deschutes County Health Services. All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness, said Dr. Richard Fawcett, the Deschutes County health officer.
The community has been reassured that there is little risk to it since the case was identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. No additional cases of plague have emerged during the communicable disease investigation. The bubonic plague can progress to more severe forms if not diagnosed early, including septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and pneumonic plague (lung infection).
Humans typically begin showing symptoms of plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include 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 warn that squirrels and chipmunks are the most common animals to carry bubonic plague, though mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. Residents and pets are advised to avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured or dead rodents in order to prevent spread of plague