Deschutes County confirms plague case


Last updated 2/13/2024 at 10:26am

Deschutes County Health Services last week confirmed a case of human plague in a local resident. The individual was likely infected by their pet cat.

“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” said Dr. Richard Fawcett, Deschutes County Health officer.   

Symptoms of plague usually begin in humans two to eight days after exposure. These symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and/or visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.  

If not diagnosed early, bubonic plague can progress to septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection). These forms of plague are more severe and difficult to treat.  Fortunately, this case was identified and treated in the earlier stages of the disease, posing little risk to the community. No additional cases of plague have emerged during the communicable disease investigation. 

According to Oregon Health Authority, plague is rare in Oregon, with the last case reported in 2015. It spreads to humans or animals through a bite from an infected flea or by contact with an animal sick with the disease. The most common animals to carry plague in Central Oregon are squirrels and chipmunks, but mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. 


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