Image Of The Bacterium That Causes Bubonic Plague

An Oregon resident has contracted the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015, health officials confirmed last week.

The resident likely contracted the disease from their cat, Deschutes County Health Services said in a news release Wednesday.

“All of the residents and their pets have been contacted and given antibiotics,” Deschutes County Health Officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said in a statement, without identifying the infected resident.

Health experts said that the risk to the local community is minimal by identifying and treating the disease at the onset of the disease. No further outbreaks occurred during the investigation.

A Picture Of A Cat

The resident probably contracted the infection from their cat.

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How is the epidemic transmitted?

Humans commonly contract plague from the bite of fleas carrying Yersinia pestis – the bacteria that causes the disease.

Pets can become infected if they prey on infected rodents or are bitten by similarly infected fleas.

People can become infected in the following ways:

  • Unexpected contact with infectious body fluids or contaminated materials
  • Inhalation of respiratory droplets/small particles from a patient with pneumonia

Bubonic plague can progress to serious and difficult-to-treat septicemia (infection of the bloodstream) and/or pneumonic plague (infection of the lungs) if not recognized early, so it’s important to recognize the warning signs when they appear.

How do I know if I have it?

According to the Mayo Clinic, bubonic plague causes swollen lymph nodes.

These are small, bean-shaped filters inside the body’s immune cells.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, a swollen lymph node is called a bubo. The word “bubonic” describes this aspect of the disease.

“If someone has bubonic plague, buboes appear in the armpits, groin, or neck. Buboes are tender or painful,” he adds.

“They vary in size from half an inch (1 centimeter) to about four inches (10 centimeters).”

A Picture Of A Woman With A Cold Wrapped In A Blanket On The Couch Holding Her Head

Bubonic plague can also cause fever and chills.

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Other symptoms of bubonic plague may include:

  • Sudden high fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • You don’t feel good at all.
  • Weakness.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Rarely, skin lesions

How is it treated?

Untreated pneumonia can quickly lead to death, so early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), timely treatment of patients with antibiotics and supportive care is effective against outbreaks.

“Pneumonic plague can be fatal if not treated within 18 to 24 hours of onset, but antibiotics common to enterobacteria (gram-negative rods) can effectively cure the disease if given early.”