Bend, Oregon – Bubonic plague has been confirmed in teen after a hunting trip, said the Oregon Health Authority.
But don’t panic yet, health officials state that the disease remains rare in Oregon.
It is believed the teen contracted the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip in Morrow County. A few days later she became ill and was eventually hospitalized on Oct. 24, while currently she is steadily recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“Many still see the plague as a disease of the past, but it’s very much present in our environment, particularly among wildlife,” said Emilio DeBess, state public health veterinarian.
No other cases have been reported but precaution must be taken.
The plague remains a very rare disease, but people should take appropriate precautions in wildlife and with their pets to keep it that way. DeBess advices people to avoid contact with wild rodents. Never feed chipmunks, squirrels, or other rodents and by no means should you touch a sick or dead rodent. Pets should be protected from fleas (as they too can carry the infection) and must not come in contact with wild rodents.
The plague’s symptoms usually develop in 1-4 days after being infected and they include headache, a bloody or watery cough, weakness, chills, and fever. There are 3 types of plague, and bubonic plague is the most common one. Generally, people with any flu-like symptoms should stay home from work to avoid exposing others. People should contact the appropriate health authorities if they suspect they or their pets have contracted the bubonic plague. Untreated animals and humans may die.
If caught early, it is treatable with antibiotics. Only 8 human cases of the bubonic plague have been diagnosed in Oregon since 1995, none fatal.