Health

Oregon Records Eighth Case Of Bubonic Plague In 20 Years

| by Jordan Smith
Bubonic Plague bacteriaBubonic Plague bacteria

A teenage girl from Crook County, Oregon, has contracted bubonic plague and is being treated in an intensive care unit, according to the Oregon health officials.

She is believed to have caught the disease from a flea during a recent hunting trip, CNN reports.

She fell ill Oct. 21 and was hospitalized Oct. 24. The girl is now recovering in an intensive care unit in the town of Bend, according to a press release from the Oregon Health Authority. 

Bubonic plague is treatable with antibiotics, provided it is identified early.

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Her case is the eighth in Oregon since 1995, none of which have resulted in death. Approximately seven cases of bubonic plague are reported annually across the country, Oregon Live reports.

“Many people think of the plague as a disease of the past, but it’s still very much present in our environment, particularly among wildlife,” Emilio DeBess, a state public health veterinarian, told OregonLive.

Unlike during the Middle Ages, people who catch the plague today in the United States have a good chance of survival. Only 11 percent of bubonic plague cases prove fatal in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting, according to CNN. These generally emerge one to four days after infection.

Bubonic plague is usually spread by fleas or rodents, including squirrels, chipmunks and rats. In the U.S., it is most common in rural areas of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

The other two types of the disease, septicemic plague and pneumonic plague, are more serious, reports Oregon Live. Septicemic plague can result in fingers, toes and the nose dying, and it can develop from untreated bubonic plague. Pneumonic plague is the only plague which is transferred between humans, and it is contracted by breathing in infected droplets.

Sources: CNN, OregonLive / Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories via OregonLive, CDC via Fox News