Bubonic Plague Case in Oregon Linked to a Sick Cat

A recent event in Oregon has brought the bubonic plague back into the spotlight. It’s an extreme illness caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. This leads us to think, could a house pet tell us more about this deadly historic disease?12

Someone living in Deschutes County, Oregon, became sick with the bubonic plague. It likely came from their cat, health officials said.2 This is the first time Oregon has seen a human plague case since 2015. It’s a scary reminder that the plague is still a risk today.1

Key Takeaways

  • A resident in Deschutes County, Oregon has contracted a rare case of the bubonic plague, likely from their pet cat.
  • This is the first human case of the plague in Oregon since 2015, when the disease is considered “rare” in the state.1
  • Symptoms of the plague usually appear in humans two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea.1
  • The plague is treatable with antibiotics, typically taken for seven to 14 days.1
  • Plague was first introduced to the United States in 1900 via rat-infested steamships and has continued to occur in the western states, including Oregon.1

Oregon Resident Contracts Rare Bubonic Plague

The bubonic plague has been found in a local person according to the Deschutes County Health Services.1 This case is the first one in Oregon since 2015.1 The person probably caught it from their cat who was showing signs of the disease.1 Health workers gave medicine to anyone who had close contact with the sick person or their cat. This is to stop them from getting sick.

Health Officials Confirm First Case in Oregon Since 2015

This latest incident of the bubonic plague in Oregon is unique. It’s the first time someone got the disease in almost ten years.3 In Oregon, the plague is pretty uncommon.1 After someone is exposed to a sick animal or flea, symptoms might show up in two to eight days.1

Person Likely Infected by Symptomatic Pet Cat

The Oregonian who was sick probably had the bubonic plague. Signs show up two to eight days later and include fever, headaches, chills, fatigue, and big, painful lymph nodes.4 Cats can easily get the plague and pass it on. They get it from eating sick rats or by being bitten by a sick flea.4 This disease is very dangerous and is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. It spreads through flea bites or contact with a sick animal.1

bubonic plague case oregon cat

A pet owner in central Oregon got a rare case of the bubonic plague. Health experts think it came from their cat.2 This marks the state’s first plague case since 2015.1 All those near the owner and the cat have taken medicine to stay healthy.1 The plague is a very dangerous infectious disease. It’s caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. This germ led to the Black Death pandemic in Europe long ago.2

Every year about seven people in the U.S. get the plague. This often happens in the country’s Southwest and Northwest. The Yersinia pestis bacterium causes it. Signs show up in humans within a week after they’ve been around an infected animal.2 Nowadays, doctors can spot and treat the plague early with drugs.2 Cats get this disease much easier than dogs do. So do wild animals like squirrels and chipmunks.2 But, if the ill person and those close to them get proper care, the plague usually doesn’t spread far.2

The bubonic plague in Oregon started with a cat that was sick. This case is the first in Oregon since 2015. Officials from the state’s health department say this.1 Last week, Deschutes County Health Services found the case in a local person. They were likely infected by their sick cat.1 Luckily, they found and treated it early. So, there’s not much danger to others.1 Signs of the bubonic plague in people include fever, nausea, and swollen lymph nodes. These show up within a week after being near an infected animal.1

A vaccine against Yersinia pestis exists. It’s often given to people who work closely with the germ.2 To avoid the plague, practice good hygiene and control fleas. Keep pets on leashes outside. Also, don’t touch dead animals.2 Condole with flea bites to dodge the plague. Stay away from rodents during outdoor fun.2

Doctors can cure the plague with antibiotics. Usually, they’re taken for a week or two.1 Without treatment, the plague can be deadly.1 The U.S. met the plague in 1900. Rats on ships brought it. Now, it’s mostly found in the western U.S.1

Understanding the Bubonic Plague

The bubonic plague comes from the Yersinia pestis bacterium.2 Usually, it spreads through flea bites or touching sick animals.2 The Black Death in Europe from the 14th to the 17th century killed about half the population.5

Spread by Infected Fleas or Contact with Sick Animals

People get the plague from flea bites or sick animals.2 For example, in Oregon, a person caught it from their pet cat. The cat showed symptoms of the plague.2

Yersinia pestis Bacterium Causes the Plague

The Yersinia pestis bacterium causes the plague. It can be fatal if not treated.2 In the United States, there are about seven cases each year.5 The case in Oregon reminds us that the plague still affects us today.

Key Plague Statistics Details
First Case in Oregon Since 2015 The recent case in Deschutes County marks the first confirmed bubonic plague infection in Oregon since 2015.5
Plague Infections in the U.S. About seven people in the U.S. are still infected with the plague each year, primarily in the rural Southwest and Northwest regions.5
Fatality Rates Untreated pneumonic plague is always fatal, while untreated bubonic plague has a lower fatality rate of around 50%.5
Plague Prevalence in Oregon Plague is still rare in Oregon, with sporadic cases occurring, and was last diagnosed in the state in 2015 before the recent case.5

Symptoms of the Bubonic Plague

plague symptoms

After contact with an infected animal or flea, signs of the bubonic plague show up within two to eight days.6 You might suddenly get a fever, feel sick, weak, and cold. Your muscles could hurt, and your lymph nodes may swell. This disease can get really bad, causing a lung or blood infection.6 Without quick treatment, it can even be fatal. So, spotting it early and using the right medicine is very important for getting well.

Fever, Nausea, Weakness, Chills, and Swollen Lymph Nodes

If you have the bubonic plague, you could get buboes in areas like your groin, armpits, or neck.6 At first, you might just feel a bit hot, tired, and in pain.6 Then, things can really get serious, leading to sepsis or pneumonia. In these cases, you need to see a doctor right away.6

Preventing the Spread of Plague

To stop the bubonic plague from spreading in Oregon, officials are stressing the need for a few key steps.1 It’s crucial to stay away from rodents and their fleas. Also, don’t handle sick or dead rodents.2 Keep your pets, especially cats, on a leash. Use products that control fleas too. This can lower your chance of coming into contact with infected fleas.7 Moreover, it’s a good idea to stop pets from hunting rodents. That’s because pets can give the disease to people.

Avoid Contact with Rodents and Their Fleas

7 Experts advise not touching rodents or fleas to prevent plague from spreading. Also, stay away from places where dead rodents might be.1 Although the plague is rare in Oregon, a recent case tells us to be cautious. Taking these steps is key to stay safe from this dangerous illness.

Keep Pets on a Leash and Use Flea Control Products

2 Cats and dogs, as well as wild animals like squirrels and rodents, can carry the plague germ.2 Leashing pets and using flea control cuts down on the risk they pose to us.

Discourage Pets from Hunting Rodents

2 After the incident in Oregon, where a cat spread the plague, quick action was taken to protect everyone.7 Experts suggest keeping pet cats from hunting rodents. This stops the disease from passing to people.

1 Signs of the plague show up two to eight days after being near an infected animal or flea.1 But, it can be cured with medicine, usually taken for up to two weeks.2 Being careful with hygiene, avoiding fleas and rodents, leashing pets, and using flea control can lower the chance of getting the plague.

Historical Context of the Bubonic Plague

black death pandemic

The bubonic plague is known best for causing the2 Black Death pandemic across medieval Europe. It killed millions. The disease spread through fleas that lived on rats. People back then didn’t know that the rats were to blame.

The plague came to the U.S. in 1900 on ships full of rats. Since then, it has popped up now and then, usually in the west. The recent outbreak in Oregon highlights the danger this disease still poses.

The Black Death Pandemic in Medieval Europe

The Black Death was a terrible pandemic in the 14th century. It was caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium.2 This bacteria spread through fleas, which lived on rats and other animals. People didn’t know this and it caused a lot of fear and deaths. The pandemic changed Europe forever, killing up to 200 million of its people.

Treatment and Recovery

The bubonic plague is a dangerous sickness, but we can fight it with antibiotics. People take these medicines for 7 to 14 days.6 Not treating it could be deadly. Luckily for Oregon, the recent case got treated fast. Health officials said this “posed little risk to the community.”6

Antibiotics Effective in Treating Plague

Getting diagnosed early and treating it right away with antibiotics is key. This stops the plague from getting worse, like infecting the blood or lungs. Those forms are hard to treat.6 Back in the late 1800s, they used a special antiserum to treat the plague. Later, antibiotics became the better choice.8

Early Diagnosis and Treatment Crucial

A person in Oregon with the bubonic plague got better after treatment.6 Today, we have effective antibiotics and care for all types of plague. Quick treatment means better chances at recovery.9


A recent case of the bubonic plague in Oregon reminds us of its serious threat. This disease is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. It spreads through flea bites or contact with sick animals.10 Oregon’s last human case was in 2015. The U.S. usually sees 7 cases a year, with 80% being bubonic.10 Most cases are in the rural west and southwest.10

Symptoms of the plague include fever, nausea, and weakness. Others are chills, muscle pain, and swollen lymph nodes. They usually start within 2 to 8 days of exposure.10 Without treatment, bubonic plague can become septicemic or pneumonic. These forms are harder to treat.10 Catching and treating the plague early with antibiotics is key to survival. This prevents it from becoming life-threatening.

To stop the plague from spreading, we should avoid rodents and their fleas. Keep pets on a leash and use flea control. Also, keep cats from hunting.10 The Oregon case shows how pets, like cats, can get and pass on the plague.10 These steps can lower the danger from this historic but deadly disease.


What is the recent bubonic plague case in Oregon?

Recently, a person in Oregon’s Deschutes County got the bubonic plague. They likely got it from their pet cat. It’s the first human case in Oregon since 2015.

How did the person contract the plague?

It seems the person got the plague from their sick cat. Health officials gave medicine to everyone close to the patient and their cat. This is to stop the disease from spreading more.

What is the bubonic plague?

The bubonic plague is a severe illness caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. This disease led to the Black Death in medieval Europe, killing many.

How is the plague typically spread?

It usually spreads through flea bites or by touching a sick animal.

What are the symptoms of the bubonic plague?

People show signs in 2-8 days, including fever and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms can include weakness, chills, and body aches.

How can the spread of the plague be prevented?

You can prevent the plague by avoiding rodents and their fleas. Keep your pets away from rodents and use flea treatments. Also, keep your home clean.

What is the historical significance of the bubonic plague?

The Black Death in Europe was the worst outbreak of this disease, killing millions. It came to the US in 1900 and fever outbreaks have happened since then, mostly in western states.

How is the bubonic plague treated?

Doctors can treat the plague with antibiotics for 7 to 14 days. It’s very important to get treatment early to avoid more serious illness.

Source Links

  1. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/pet-owner-bubonic-plague-cat-oregon/story?id=107193625
  2. https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/13/health/plague-oregon-cat/index.html
  3. https://people.com/bubonic-plague-from-cat-oregon-resident-8576235
  4. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/oregon-resident-catches-rare-case-of-plague-likely-from-their-cat-180983785/
  5. https://www.livescience.com/health/viruses-infections-disease/oregons-1st-bubonic-plague-case-in-8-years-tied-to-patients-pet-cat
  6. https://www.contagionlive.com/view/rare-case-of-the-bubonic-plague-identified-in-oregon
  7. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2024/02/12/oregon-bubonic-plague-case-pet-cat-symptoms/72571446007/
  8. https://apnews.com/us-news/plague-oregon-general-news-6d5a71b8a45e5e38ec321fd48fdb9576
  9. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/a-central-oregon-resident-caught-bubonic-plague-what-you-need-to-know/
  10. https://fox59.com/news/national-world/bubonic-plague-case-confirmed-in-oregon-will-it-spread/

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