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Plague case confirmed in Oregon

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
The cat isn't being blamed.

Plague Confirmed in Oregon Man Bitten by Stray Cat
Health officials have confirmed that an Oregon man has the plague after he was bitten while trying to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat.

The unidentified Prineville, Ore., man was in critical condition on Friday. He is suffering from a blood-borne version of the disease that wiped out at least one-third of Europe in the 14th century — that one, the bubonic plague, affects lymph nodes.

There is an average of seven human plague cases in the U.S. each year. A map maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that most cases since the 1970s have been in the West, primarily the southwest.

Central Oregon health officials don't blame the cat.

"The reality is that, in rural areas, part of the role of cats is to keep the rodent population controlled around our homes and barns" said Karen Yeargain of the Crook County Health Department.

This article says it isn't clear whether the cat or the mouse bit the man:
The Black Death Returns: Oregon Man in Critical Condition with the Plague
In 21st century America, most of us don’t expect to meet our maker in certain arcane ways: arrow wounds, say, or Viking maurauders. Or the Black Death. And yet a man in Oregon has contracted the most feared disease of medieval Europe and is in critical condition.

The unidentified Oregonian, in his 50s, fell ill from the disease on June 2 when he tried to grab a mouse away from a cat. It is unclear which of those two animals bit his hand.
post #2 of 13

I'm pretty sure that it is believed the original bubonic plague was caused by rat fleas.

Pretty awful that it's still around!

post #3 of 13

So scary!  It said in one of the articles that theres a vaccine for it, but its not avalible in the US.  I dont know about you, but if I lived in Prinville OR, Id be wanting some of that vaccine sent over!

post #4 of 13

Black or Bobonic Plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia Pestis.  It lives in the gut of fleas and is transmitted by their bites.  There are thousands of cases reported to the World Health Organization every year.

post #5 of 13

Well, I guess what we all can take from this not take cat's prey away from them. That's the first lesson I think. Other than that, I'm a bit freaked out about it. I live in Oregon. I live quite aways from Prineville and it's a whole different climate. I have a feral group that I take care of and they are quite the little pack of hunters as we are surrounded on all sides by grass seed fields. While I would never take their prey from them (like they would let me! lol!) I fear that they might catch something like that. How do we know? How do we protect our wilder little friends???

post #6 of 13

It is a mild concern to people who live in an area close to an outbreak.  The chances of getting it are less than being struck by lightning. The chances of dying of plague even if you get it are 1 in 200 (.05%)  The chances of dying by lightning strike are 1 in 10 (10%)  400 strikes, 40 deaths.  Statistics for United States only.

post #7 of 13

We've had problems with prairie dogs for decades.  Every once in awhile, it will show up in cats which is why mine are strictly indoors. Cat, squirrel have bubonic plague

post #8 of 13

Prarie dogs, ground squirrels and rats are the main carriers of plague-infected fleas according to the AVMA. Check their website for specific information.

post #9 of 13

The brother of one of the girls in my class in high school died of the plague after handling a prairie dog he had shot.  That was in about 1968.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
There's a follow-up report: Oregon Man to Lose Fingers From Black Plague, 'Lucky' to Be Alive
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
There's been another case. Girl, 7, catches bubonic plague
A seven-year-old girl is believed to have caught the bubonic plague from fleas on a dead squirrel while camping with her family in the US state of Colorado.

I've spent a great deal of summer vacation reading medieval history - at the moment a biography of Henry VII of England - so hearing about cases in modern times sends chills down my spine.
post #12 of 13

I guess most cat-lovers know this, but one of the big reasons that the plague took hold so badly was that in the middle ages they thought that cats were in league with the devil (so-called witches were always depicted with them) and so they were slaughtered by the thousands.  No cats to keep down the rat population meant that the disease flourished.

post #13 of 13

This is scary.  But I read that the CDC says there are ten to fifteen cases every year in the US.  Contol rats and fleas. 

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