Black plague, it would seem, is alive and well in Oregon. According to CBS News, authorities believe that a man contracted the infamously deadly plague from a stray cat while attempting to dislodge a mouse from its mouth. During the exchange, the cat decided to take a chunk out of the poor guy, effectively transferring the disease to his blood stream. The altercation between man and beast took place on June 2nd, after which the man experienced a severe fever. By June 8th, he was very sick, prompting a visit to a nearby hospital.
Presently, he's being treated at St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where he is listed in critical condition. This marks the fifth recorded case of the black plague in Oregon since 1995.
The cat, meanwhile, has since passed away. Its body is currently being studied by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is often transmitted by fleas who are infected with the Yersinia pestis bacteria. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, and extreme exhaustion, as well as abdominal pain and bleeding from the mouth, nose or rectum. In short, this isn't something you'd want to contract.
"This can be a serious illness," said Emilio DeBess explained to the Oregonian. "But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it's also preventable." If left untreated, however, the bacteria can multiply in the bloodstream, which then allows it to spread throughout the body. Although a vaccine exists, it is currently unavailable for purchase in the United States.
Surprisingly, 10 to 20 people are diagnosed with the black plague every year in the U.S. Globally, there are reportedly 1,000 to 3,000 cases a year. In the mid-14th century, the black plague effectively wiped out half of Europe's population.
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