US officials confirm ‘bubonic plague’ case

Health officials in the US state of Oregon have confirmed a case of 'bubonic plague' in a person. The last reported case in the state was in 2015.

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Oregon’s Deschutes County Health Department said on February 7 that a citizen had been diagnosed with bubonic plague, adding, “All close contacts of the owner and his pet have been contacted and medication has been provided to prevent illness.”

“Plague symptoms usually begin in humans 2 to 8 days after exposure to an infected animal or flea. These symptoms may include sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and/or visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.

If not diagnosed early, bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection). These types of plague are more severe and difficult to treat. Fortunately, this case was detected and treated in the early stages of the disease and posed little risk to the community. No other cases of plague have emerged during infectious disease investigations.”

“Squirrels are the most common animals that carry the plague”

Deschutes Health said in a statement that plague is rare in Oregon, with the last case reported in 2015.

“Plague is rare in Oregon and the last case was reported in 2015. It is spread to humans or animals through the bite of an infected flea or through contact with an infected animal. The most common animals carrying the plague in Central Oregon are squirrels, but mice and other rodents can also carry the disease.”

How can it be prevented?

The statement highlights tips to prevent the spread of the plague, including keeping fleas away from pets.

“To reduce flea exposure, wear long pants tucked into the tops of boots and apply insect repellent to socks and pant legs. Also avoid feeding squirrels and other wild rodents in picnic areas.”


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