Oregon Health Officials Confirm First Human Bubonic Plague Case Since 2015

Oregon Health officials confirm first human Bubonic plague case since 2015: Oregon resident catches bubonic plague from pet cat, all close contacts treated.

In a concerning development, Oregon health officials have recently confirmed the first human case of bubonic plague in the state since 2015. This rare and potentially deadly disease has sparked alarm among residents and health professionals alike. In this article, we will delve into the details surrounding this case, including the symptoms, transmission, treatment, and preventive measures.

Understanding Bubonic Plague

Bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is primarily transmitted through fleas that infest rats and other small mammals. Humans can contract the disease when bitten by infected fleas or through direct contact with bodily fluids or tissues of infected animals.

The symptoms of bubonic plague typically appear within two to six days after exposure. They include the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, known as buboes. If left untreated, the infection can progress to septicemic or pneumonic plague, which are even more severe and can be fatal.

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The Oregon Case

The recent case of bubonic plague in Oregon involves an individual from Crook County who fell ill after being bitten by fleas while attempting to rescue a stray cat. The individual sought medical attention promptly, and laboratory tests confirmed the presence of Yersinia pestis in their system. Fortunately, the patient is currently receiving appropriate treatment and is expected to recover.

Preventive Measures

While the bubonic plague is a serious disease, there are measures individuals can take to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid contact with wild rodents: It is important to avoid handling or approaching wild rodents, such as rats, squirrels, and prairie dogs. These animals can carry infected fleas.
  • Protect yourself from fleas: Use insect repellent containing DEET when spending time outdoors, especially in areas where rodents may be present. Additionally, wearing long sleeves and pants can help prevent flea bites.
  • Keep your pets protected: Ensure that your pets are regularly treated with flea control products to prevent them from bringing infected fleas into your home.
  • Maintain a clean environment: Keep your living area clean and free of clutter that may attract rodents. Seal any cracks or openings in your home to prevent rodents from entering.
  • Be cautious with dead animals: If you come across a dead animal, do not handle it. Contact your local health department for proper disposal.
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Treatment and Diagnosis

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing bubonic plague. If you experience symptoms or suspect exposure, seek medical attention immediately. Healthcare providers can perform diagnostic tests, such as blood cultures and serologic tests, to confirm the presence of the bacterium.

Once diagnosed, treatment typically involves the administration of antibiotics, such as streptomycin, gentamicin, or doxycycline. Prompt treatment greatly improves the chances of a full recovery and reduces the risk of complications.


The confirmation of the first human bubonic plague case in Oregon since 2015 is a concerning development. However, it is important to remember that with proper precautions and early medical intervention, the disease can be effectively treated and managed. By staying informed, following preventive measures, and seeking prompt medical attention when necessary, we can minimize the risk of bubonic plague and protect our communities.

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