First case of bubonic plague discovered in US state in nearly a decade

First case of bubonic plague discovered in US state in nearly a decade

The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis (Picture: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)

Authorities in Oregon have confirmed the US state’s first human case of bubonic plague in almost 10 years.

A resident of Deschutes County, located south-east of the city of Portland, is believed to have been infected through contact with their pet cat.

The disease is most notorious for two epidemics in England over the past millennium, one of which – known as the Black Death – killed 40% to 60% of the country’s population in the late 1340s.

Another outbreak in the 1660s, named the Great Plague, is thought to have killed around a fifth of the people living in London at the time.

Dr. Richard Fawcett, the health officer for Deschutes County, said: ‘All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness.’

He added: ‘Fortunately, this case was identified and treated in the earlier stages of the disease, posing little risk to the community.

‘No additional cases of plague have emerged during the communicable disease investigation.’

The announcement comes shortly after the first recorded death from recently discovered viral disease Alaskapox.

An elderly man from Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, was receiving treatment for the illness in hospital when he died in late January, the state’s health department confirmed.

The person in Oregon is thought to have been infected by their symptomatic pet cat (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Deschutes County officials said symptoms of plague tend to appear two to eight days after the patient is exposed to an infected animal or flea.

Those symptoms include fever, muscle aches and buboes, the visibly swollen lymph nodes that give the disease its name.

According to the health alert distributed by officials, squirrels and chipmunks are the most common transmitters of plague in central Oregon, which is mostly covered with dense forest and mountainous desert.

Mice and rodents have also been found to carry the disease.

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The last time someone in the state was infected by plague was in 2015, the Oregon Health Authority said.

However, it has almost been a full century since the last full-blown urban outbreakof plague in the US.

Over the course of less than two months in 1924, the spread of pneumonic plague in Los Angeles brought over on rat–infested steamships killed 30 people.

Between 1970 and 2020, more than half of the plague cases identified in the US were reported in the southern state of New Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded two deaths from plague in the country in 2020.

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