In Oregon, health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The individual was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat, according to Deschutes County officials. No additional cases have been reported, and the case was caught early, posing little risk to the community.
Bubonic plague is caused by a bacteria found in small mammals and their fleas. Central Oregon squirrels and chipmunks most often carry the disease. However, health officials said that mice and other rodents can also carry plague. Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after a person is exposed to an infected animal or flea and include fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes.
To prevent the spread of the plague, officials urged people to avoid contact with rodents, including those that are sick, injured or dead. They suggested keeping pets on leashes while outdoors and using flea control products to reduce the possibility that they get fleas. Pet cats are particularly susceptible to plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible.
Bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague, a bloodstream infection or pneumonic plague, a lung infection if it’s not diagnosed early. Both forms are more severe and difficult to treat than bubonic form of the disease which is most common form of the disease in Central Oregon area where squirrels and chipmunks most often carry it . Bubonic Plague was first introduced to U.S in 1900 by rat-infested steamships that sailed from Mexico into California ports . Most cases are reported in parts of New Mexico , Arizona , Colorado , California , Oregon & Nevada .