US: Oregon reports first human case of Bubonic plague in nearly a decade

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Oregon [US]: The Oregon state of the US reported its first human case of bubonic plague in nearly a decade, the New York Post reported on Saturday, adding that the patient was likely infected by their cat.

According to the report, contracting the bubonic plague is extremely rare in the US, with an average of 5 to 15 cases occurring each year in the West, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease is typically found in rural to semi-rural areas where wild rodents are more common.

The infected person was identified as a ‘local resident’ of Deschutes County, a rural part of central Oregon, and is believed to be the only person infected other than the symptomatic pet American-based news daily reported, quoting the health officials.

“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” Deschutes County Health Officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said in a statement.

The person and their cat’s conditions are not yet known, but officials 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 carried by squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents and their fleas. When an infected rodent becomes sick and dies, its fleas can carry the infection to other animals or humans through bites.

According to the New York Post, those infected come down with a high fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Symptoms arise between two to eight days after exposure.

While there is no vaccine, the plague is treatable with antibiotics if caught early. It can be fatal if left untreated.

The confirmed case is the first to hit the state since 2015, when a teenage girl contracted the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip.

There have only been nine human cases of the plague in Oregon since 1995, with no reported deaths.

Officials recommend people avoid any contact with wild rodents, especially sick or dead ones, and should never feed squirrels or chipmunks. People should also keep their pets away from wild rodents to avoid infection.

 

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