An Oregon resident contracted bubonic plague for the first time in nearly a decade and was likely infected by his cat.
The “local resident” of Deschutes County, a rural area of central Oregon, is believed to be the only person infected, health officials announced Wednesday.
Apart from the symptomatic pet, of course.
“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medications to prevent illness,” Deschutes County Health Officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said in a statement.
The conditions of the person and their cat are not yet known, but authorities said the case was diagnosed and treated early, posing little risk to the community.
The bubonic plague, famous for ravaging Europe in the 14th century, is transmitted by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes ill and dies, its fleas can transmit the infection to other animals or humans through their bites.
Those infected have high fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Symptoms appear two to eight days after exposure.
An Oregon resident has contracted the bubonic plague, officials confirmed this week. Dr_Microbe – stock.adobe.com
While there is no vaccine, plague can be treated with antibiotics if caught early. It can be fatal if untreated.
The confirmed case is the first to arrive in the state since 2015, when a teenager contracted the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip.
There have only been nine human cases of plague in Oregon since 1995, and no deaths have been reported.
Officials said the person was “probably” infected by their cat. fantom_rd – stock.adobe.com
Contracting bubonic plague is extremely rare in the U.S., with an average of 5 to 15 cases each year in the West, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is typically found in rural and semi-rural areas where wild rodents are more common.
Authorities recommend that people avoid any contact with wild rodents, especially sick or dead ones, and never feed squirrels or chipmunks. People should also keep their pets away from wild rodents to avoid infection.