An Oregon Teen Has Come Down With a Bout of the Bubonic Plague

Illustration for article titled An Oregon Teen Has Come Down With a Bout of the Bubonic Plague

Wow, excellent: according to reports, a teenage girl in Bend, Oregon, contracted a case of bubonic plague from a flea during a hunting trip.

From the Oregon Health Authority:

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 Oct. 16. She reportedly fell ill on Oct. 21 and was hospitalized in Bend on Oct. 24. She is recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Oregon Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologists are working with health officials in Crook, Deschutes and Morrow counties to investigate the illness. No other persons are believed to have been infected.


NPR points out that bubonic plague is not infectious, as opposed to pneumonic plague, which is contagious and spreads through the air. We generally associated the plague with the “Black Death” that nearly took out Europe in the 14th century, but the mortality rate for plague infections today is down to 11 percent, a considerable shift from the pre-antibiotic 66 to 93 percent fatality risk.

Although the plague is rare and highly treatable, cases are on the rise in the United States, an apparent phenomenon that is puzzling scientists. That’s what I love to hear.

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Oregon Trail, 2015 edition: “you have died of bubonic plague”