In recent years, the first case of bubonic plague in Oregon has been announced by health officials in Deschutes County. This case was traced back to a resident who was likely infected by their pet cat. The disease is generally spread through a bite from an infected flea or contact with an infected animal. Despite the fact that human-to-human transmission is rare, if not treated quickly, the disease can result in serious illness and even death.
The bubonic plague is infamous for having caused millions of deaths in Europe from 1347 to 1351, but it is now easily treatable with modern antibiotics. However, it still occurs in rural parts of the West, such as New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. In the U.S., plague infections continue to occur every year on average though the number is significantly higher worldwide.
To prevent plague, Deschutes County Health Services recommends various measures such as keeping pets on a leash when outdoors and refraining from feeding squirrels, chipmunks or other wild rodents. Symptoms of the disease usually appear between two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea and can include fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.