Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Oregon, My Oregon

Science Alerts, Rare Human Case of Bubonic Plague in Oregon Confirmed by Authorities

The state of Oregon just confirmed its first case in eight years, and officials say it probably came from a domestic cat, which also showed symptoms.

Oregon health officer Richard Fawcett told Aria Bendix at NBC News that the patient who contracted the plague from their pet became "very sick". Usually, an infection of this kind starts with flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, fever, chills, and a headache.The recent infection in Oregon, however, had progressed to the point of a draining abscess, called a "bubo", which is a rare outcome nowadays.

Thankfully, modern antibiotics mean that the bubonic plague no longer has to be a death sentence. The bacterium behind the infection, Yersinia pestis, rarely proves fatal if caught and treated early enough. The patient in Oregon is apparently responding well to modern medicine, and their close contacts have also been treated to curb the possibility of further spread.

Officials have not said how the infection spread from the cat to the owner, but if the cat was bitten by infected fleas, the pet might have brought the fleas home, exposing the owner, too. Either that, or the owner may have been in contact with the cat's own contaminated fluids.

As much as I'm tempted to blame Brandon, Plague has been endemic in rodent populations in the west for a long time, and cases do pop up in people from time to time. It would be pretty awful if a breakout got going in the homeless community, wouldn't it?

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