New Plague Case Reported

A view of the bubonic plague through an electron microscope. Photo credit / Pixabay
A view of the bubonic plague through an electron microscope. Photo credit / Pixabay

A view of the bubonic plague through an electron microscope. Photo credit / Pixabay

By Brian Litterer

Contributing Writer

A 16-year-old girl was hospitalized and diagnosed with a case of the bubonic plague on Oct. 24 in Bend, Ore..

It is thought that the teenage girl was infected while hunting on Oct. 16 from a fleabite.

She is currently in the intensive care unit, according to the New York Times“Humans become infected by fleas who have fed off of infected rodents such as rats, chipmunks and squirrels,” said News Channel 4 KFOR journalist Nadia Judith Enchassi.

“Plague is rare and treatable with antibiotics if caught early, but federal authorities have been puzzled by an increase in cases this year,” said New York Time’s journalist Christine Hauser.

“Before the introduction of antibiotics, the mortality rate for plague patients was 66 percent, the CDC says. But in the two most recent decades, that number fell to 11 percent,” said NPR reporter Bill Chappell.

A majority of individuals believe the plague to be an illness in history, but the illness is naturally occurring within present ecosystems.

“Bubonic plague affects the lymph nodes,” said Hauser. “Two other types of plague are septicemic, a blood infection, and the most contagious form, pneumonic, which infects the lungs.”

Oregon has only has had eight cases of the plague reported since 1995. No deaths have occurred from these cases.

“In recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases have been reported each year, according to the disease centers,” said Hauser.

“Since April 1, there have been at least 11 cases in the United States of plague in humans, three of them fatal, affecting residents of Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico and Oregon, the C.D.C. said in August.”

The average incubation period of the plague can last from one to six days after infection, according to the CDC.

“[Symptoms] include an overall feeling of sickness, sudden fever, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting,” said Enchassi.

The CDC says there have been 15 cases of the bubonic plague this year in the United States, and four of those patients have died due to the illness.

According Enchassi, the CDC is teaming up to work with Oregon health officials to investigate this most recent infection.

Email Brian at: blitterer@live.esu.edu

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