In recent news, Deschutes County in Oregon has reported the first case of bubonic plague in eight years. According to health officials, the disease was traced back to a resident who is believed to have been infected by their pet cat. All close contacts of the infected individual and their pet have been contacted and provided with medication to prevent illness.
Despite its infamous reputation for causing millions of deaths in Europe during the 14th century, bubonic plague is now easily treatable with modern antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious illness or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that human plague cases in the U.S. average around seven per year, though the number is significantly higher worldwide.
To prevent plague, Deschutes County Health Services recommends several measures such as keeping pets on a leash when outdoors and avoiding feeding squirrels, chipmunks or other wild rodents. Symptoms of the disease in humans usually appear between two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea and can include fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.
Human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare and this Oregon case was identified early and treated swiftly according to officials. It’s important for individuals living in rural parts of the West such as New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado to be aware of the risks associated with plague infection and take necessary precautions to prevent it from spreading further.