Health officials in Oregon confirmed a case of plague in a man that was bitten by a stray cat. The man had been attempting to extract a dead animal from the cat’s mouth when he was bitten.
The man has not been identified but is from Prineville, Oregon and on Friday was in the hospital in critical condition. He has a type of the plague that is blood-borne. The disease at one time killed close to 1/3 of Europe during the 1500s, but that affected the lymph nodes and was referred to as the bubonic plague.
Each year the U.S. averages seven human cases of plague. A map is kept by the CDC or Centers for Disease Control that shows the majority of cases from the early 1970s were in the western part of the country, primary in the country’s southwest.
Plague bacterium cycles through the populations of rodents without eradicating them. In many urban areas, the disease is transmitted from rats to tiny fleas. The cycle is referred to as the enzootic cycle.
The bacteria can thrive very well in forests, grasslands and areas that are semi-arid. Once very deadly, the plague now is easier to treat in humans. The mortality rate nationally for the disease prior to World War II was 66%, but antibiotic advances reduced that to a current 16%.
The man remained at Bend hospital in critical condition with his illness marking the fifth plague case since 1995 in Oregon. The man became infected when a stray cat bit him when he tried to take a rodent out of its mouth.