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A cat is the likely source of a rare case of bubonic plague in Oregon

2024-02-20T15:12:23+00:00
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Bubonic plague, Oregon spread, cat, disease, MundoNOW
Bubonic plague in Oregon (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • A cat is the likely source of bubonic plague in Oregaon.
  • It’s the state’s first human case since 2015.
  • The CDC issues a warning.

The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death — a disease that terrified humanity during the Middle Ages — is making headlines today with a recent case in the United States.

In Deschutes County, Oregon, one person has been diagnosed with this rare bacterial infection, marking the first confirmed case in the state since 2015.

It has been reported that the disease, transmitted by rodents and fleas, was detected in both a cat and its owner, raising questions about how it can spread today.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common source of infection in humans is through the bites of fleas carried by animals.

In this specific case, experts identified the bacterial infection Yersinia pestis in a domestic cat and its owner.

It is worth mentioning that the infection is presumed to have occurred when the person interacted with their pet after it developed symptoms.

Pets, experts point out, can also contract bubonic plague by coming into contact with wild animals, such as rodents that cats can hunt.

A cat may be the source of a human case of bubonic plague

Oregon bubonic plague cat, disease, pet, USA, MundoNOW
PHOTO: Shutterstock

According to CNN, Dr. Richard Fawcett, Deschutes County health officer, released a statement about the infection.

He said, «All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness.»

Common antibiotics, such as gentamicin and fluoroquinolones, are the first-line treatment for plague, according to the CDC.

Despite the shocking diagnosis, health authorities say they treated the infected person in the early stages of the disease and that he represents «little risk» to the community.

Symptoms of bubonic plague

Cat, bubonic plague, Oregon, USA, MundoNOW
PHOTO: Shutterstock

However, this case raises troubling questions about how the bubonic plague — infamous for having wreaked havoc in Europe during the Middle Ages — can spread in the modern era.

Bubonic plague is characterized by fever, chills, weakness and swollen lymph nodes, known as buboes.

Although it is a rare disease today, its resurgence raises the need for a better understanding of how it is spread and appropriate preventive measures.

The CDC warns that the disease can be fatal if not treated quickly, but also highlights the effectiveness of antibiotics in the early stages.

More problems in Oregon?

Oregon, disease, cat, USA, MundoNOW
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Pets can also become infected by fleas who have come into contact with wild animals —  especially rodents.

If the animal becomes ill from the insect bite, it can transmit the disease to its owners through contact with tissues or body fluids. Like the droplets exhaled when sneezing.

Statistically, cats are one of the species that is most susceptible to the plague.

This is because they often hunt rodents and their immune system is particularly weak against this infection.

What happened to the cat?

death, virus, USA, MundoNOW
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Richard Fawcett said the cat died after becoming «very sick» and suffering from draining abscesses.

He believes the owner’s infection started in a lymph node, which when inflamed causes the characteristic buboes.

By the time he was taken to the hospital, the infection had progressed to his bloodstream, according to NBC News.

However, thanks to antibiotic treatment, “he is responding very well,” although he has a persistent cough.

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