Officials in Deschutes County have announced that a resident of Oregon has been infected with the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The resident is believed to have contracted the disease from 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, according to Dr. Richard Fawcett, the Deschutes County health officer. Officials reassured the community that there is little risk to it since the case was identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. There have been no additional cases of plague that have emerged during the communicable disease investigation.
The bubonic plague can progress to the more severe and difficult to treat septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection) if not diagnosed early. The last case of human plague in Oregon was reported in 2015, and officials reminded the public that humans typically begin to show symptoms of the plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.
Officials recommend that residents and pets avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured, or dead rodents, in order to prevent the spread of the plague. In Central Oregon, officials warned that the most common animals to carry bubonic plague are squirrels and chipmunks