Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Health officials say Oregon resident likely contracted bubonic plague from a cat

Deschutes County officials in Oregon have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The person is believed to have been infected by their symptomatic pet cat, according to a statement issued last week. This case was caught early and poses little risk to the community, officials said. No additional cases have been 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 stated on Wednesday. Plague is caused by a bacteria found in small mammals and their fleas, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease, which can be spread through the bite of an infected flea or contact with an infected animal. In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks are most often carriers of the disease, but mice and other rodents can also carry it.

Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after a person comes into contact with an infected animal or flea. They include fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen lymph nodes called buboes – which can develop into septicemic plague if not diagnosed early – a bloodstream infection or pneumonic plague – a lung infection – both forms being more severe and difficult to treat.

To prevent spreading this disease, health officials advise people to avoid contact with rodents – including those that are sick or dead – and keep pets on leashes while outdoors. They also recommend using flea control products on pets for reduced possibilities of getting fleas from them. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to plague; they should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible.

Plague was initially brought into America by rat-infested steamships sailing from New Mexico in 1900 according to CDC data. Most cases are reported across parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon and Nevada with over 80% being instances of the bubonic form of the disease resulting in approximately seven new cases per year as shown by CDC numbers

By Editor

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