Case of bubonic plague identified in the USA

Case of bubonic plague identified in the USA

A case of bubonic plague, better known as the ‘Black Death’, was detected in Oregon, in the United States of America (USA). This is the first confirmed case in that state since October 2015.

Deschutes County Health Services “confirmed a case of human plague in a local resident,” with the individual becoming infected through contact with a domestic cat that showed symptoms of the disease.

Bubonic plague can be transmitted to humans through the bite of a flea or through contact with bodily fluids from infected animals, particularly rodents. Cats are especially more susceptible to plague because they normally hunt rodents.

Symptoms of bubonic plague include fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle pain and/or visible swelling of lymph nodes and usually appear between two and eight days after exposure to the disease.

Richard Fawcett, director of Deschutes Health Services, cited by the North American television station NBC, assures that “all close contacts of the individual and the animal were contacted and medication was provided to prevent the disease”.

The cat that was involved in the case, explains the health manager, was “very sick” and had a draining abscess, a sign of a “significant” infection. Fawcett indicated that the patient has “responded very well to antibiotic treatment.”

Fox says that the risk of community contagion is reduced, and the case was identified and treated at an early stage of the disease. If the ‘Black Death’ is not treated it can progress to more severe stages of the disease, such as septicemic plague or pneumonic plague.

Cases of bubonic plague are rare in the USA, with only one to seven new cases recorded per year. The North American Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that “more than 80% of plague cases in the United States were in the bubonic form”. “Since the second half of the 20th century, plague in the United States has typically occurred in rural areas.”


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