Oregon Teen Gets Bubonic Plague

A teenage girl in Oregon is recovering from the plague in the intensive care unit.
Yersinia pestis causes the plague
The Yersinia pestis bacteria is the cause of the bubonic plague.|Photo by Flickr/NIAID

In Crook County, Oregon, a teenage girl contracted the bubonic plague from an infected flea during a hiking trip, CNN reported. The Oregon Health Authority published a press release explaining that the teenager had been feeling ill on Oct. 21.

The press release reads:

Oregon Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologists are working with health officials in Crook, Deschutes and Morrow counties to investigate the illness. No other persons are believed to have been infected.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, there have been only eight reported human cases of the plague in Oregon since 1995 and that if it is caught early, the plague can be treated with antibiotics.

The CDC provided a list of ways to proactively prevent yourself from getting the plague on its website:

  1. Reduce rodent habitat around your home, work place, and recreational areas. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food. Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.
  2. Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. Contact your local health department if you have questions about disposal of dead animals.
  3. Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as clothing and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).
  4. Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  5. Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free in endemic areas to sleep on your bed.

For more information on the plague, visit http://www.cdc.gov/plague.

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