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30 Oct, 2015 16:01

Teenage girl diagnosed with bubonic plague in Oregon

Teenage girl diagnosed with bubonic plague in Oregon

A 16-year-old girl has been diagnosed with bubonic plague in Crook County, Oregon, the local health authority confirmed.

“The girl is believed to have acquired the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip near Heppner in Morrow County that started on October16. She reportedly fell ill on October 21 and was hospitalized in Bend on October 24. She is recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit,” the official press release says.

The teenage patient is said to be recovering.

No other infected people have been reported so far.

Humans can catch plague from fleas that jump from infected rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks or rats.

READ MORE Plague in Colorado: Second death in 2 months from flea-borne disease

"Many people think of the plague as a disease of the past, but it's still very much present in our environment, particularly among wildlife,” said Emilio DeBess, DVM, state public health veterinarian in the Public Health Division’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section.

Although the disease is extremely rare, since 1995 eight human cases have been diagnosed in Oregon.
Fifteen other human cases of the plague have been reported in the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four of the patients died.

In the US the plague usually occurs in rural and semi-rural western areas, most commonly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

READ MORE Pentagon labs may have mishandled plague bacteria – CDC 

Bubonic plague, estimated to have killed between 30 and 60 percent of the European population in the 14th century, can now be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if the disease is diagnosed in its early stages. 

Symptoms include an overall feeling of sickness, sudden fever, swollen lymph nodes (most commonly in the neck and under the jaw), abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

READ MORE NYC rats carry Bubonic plague-transmitting fleas - study

Worldwide the average annual number of people diagnosed with plague is around 2.5 thousand, a number that shows no tendency to decline.