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Authorities Confirm Rare Case Of Bubonic Plague In Oregon

Authorities confirm rare case of bubonic plague in Oregon. Although the bubonic plague may seem like a relic of the past, the bacterium responsible for the disease still causes thousands of human infections globally each year, albeit with relatively rare cases in the US.

Author:Hajra Shannon
Reviewer:Paula M. Graham
Feb 15, 202427 Shares8.8K Views
Authorities confirm rare case of bubonic plague in Oregon. Although the bubonic plague may seem like a relic of the past, the bacterium responsible for the disease still causes thousands of human infections globally each year, albeit with relatively rare cases in the US.
Oregon recently confirmed its first case in eight years, with officials suggesting it likely originated from a domestic cat that also displayed symptoms.
Richard Fawcett, Oregon's health officer, informed NBC News' Aria Bendix that the patient contracted the plague from their pet and became severely ill.
Typically, such infections begin with flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, and headaches. However, the recent case in Oregon progressed to a rare outcome nowadays: a draining abscess known as a "bubo."
Fortunately, modern antibiotics have transformed the bubonic plague from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible, is rarely fatal if detected and treated early.
The patient in Oregon is reportedly responding well to modern medicine, and their close contacts have received treatment to prevent further spread. Officials have not stated how the infection spread from the cat to the owner, but it's possible that the cat bit an infected flea, which then passed the disease to the owner. Alternatively, the owner may have come into contact with the cat's contaminated fluids.
Yersinia pestis typically infects small mammals and fleas. Depending on how it transfers to humans - whether through bites, contaminated fluids, or airborne droplets - it can lead to bubonic plague or more severe blood or lung-based plague.
A pet cat that was carrying the bubonic plague
A pet cat that was carrying the bubonic plague
Bubonic plague, the most common form, affects the lymphatic system, causing swollen and painful lymph nodes that can develop into open, pus-filled sores. If the infection progresses, it can also affect the lungs.
The patient in Oregon reportedly began coughing in the hospital, indicating a potential advancement to a dangerous stage of the disease. The plague was first identified in the US in the early 20th century and introduced to the nation via rats on ships.
The last urban plague epidemic in the country ended in 1925, but the bacteria found refuge in rural rodent species, leading to periodic outbreaks outside major cities. Today, most cases in the US occur in rural areas of the Midwest and Northwest, with an average of about seven cases reported each year.
Oregon's last reported case was in 2015 when a girl was infected during a hunting trip and required intensive care. Fortunately, no deaths from the plague have been reported in the state for decades.
Beyond the US, the plague is found on every continent except Oceania. Regions where the disease regularly occurs typically have resident animal reservoirs and overlapping human populations, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru.
During severe outbreaks, the disease can claim hundreds of lives. However, compared to historical pandemics like the Black Death in 15th-century Europe and the 19th-century outbreaks in China and India, the bubonic plague is no longer the global killer it once was. Nevertheless, due to its past notoriety, a single case in the US can still capture headlines - even when the patient is successfully treated and the contagion halted.
Hajra Shannon

Hajra Shannon

Author
Paula M. Graham

Paula M. Graham

Reviewer
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