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Deschutes County Health Services in Oregon has announced that one of its residents has been infected with the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The resident is believed to have contracted the disease from their cat, according to health officials. All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness, said Dr. Richard Fawcett, the Deschutes County health officer.

The bubonic plague can progress to the more severe and difficult-to-treat septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection) if not diagnosed early. However, officials reassured the community that there is little risk to it since the case was identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. There have been no additional cases of plague reported during the communicable disease investigation, said health officials.

Humans typically begin to show symptoms of the bubonic plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes. Humans can be infected through bites or contact with infected fleas or animals. In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks are the most common animals that carry bubonic plague, but mice and other rodents can also carry it. Officials advise residents and pets to avoid contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured or dead ones to prevent spreading the disease.

The last case of human plague in Oregon was reported in 2015. However, officials reminded everyone that humans can contract this deadly disease by coming into contact with infected animals or fleas. Therefore, people should take necessary precautions while living in areas where these animals exist.

In summary, an individual from Oregon has been infected with bubonic plague for the first time since 2015 due to their cat’s infection. Officials advised all close contacts of medication to prevent illness while reassuring everyone that there is little risk since it was identified early on stage. Squirrels and chipmunks are most likely carriers of this deadly disease in Central Oregon; therefore people should avoid contact with them as much as possible.

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