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Barn cat in Prineville infected by the plague | OregonLive.com

A barn cat in Prineville is being treated for an infectious disease associated with the Middle Ages: bubonic plague.

Emilio DeBess, Oregon's public health veterinarian, said the 6-year-old cat, named Meow, was brought into a veterinarian in Prineville at the end of May with an abscessed lymph node on its neck and an elevated fever. The vet, worried about the symptoms, alerted DeBess and sent a sample of the cat's lymph node to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University.

Sure enough, Meow had the plague, a disease that has infected wild animals such as squirrels and rats in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Colorado but is rarely seen in Oregon or Washington. The only recent case of a wild animal in Oregon involved mule deer in Grant County in 2005.

The plague is carried by fleas, which often infect mice and rats but can bite people and pets as well. DeBess said that since 1995, only three people in Oregon have been infected. Two of those cases -- a mother and daughter in Lakeview -- got sick last year. Their dog was infected as well but the husband was not sick.

Still, those two cases grabbed DeBess' attention.

"That's a change from what we've seen in the past," he said. "We're keeping an eye on what's going on."

The other case involved a woman in Bend in 1995 and her two cats. All three people recovered. So did the cats and the dog and Meow is also on his way to a full recovery. Meow's owners did not get sick, DeBess said.

Early detection of the infection and treatment with antibiotics is critical. Untreated, the plague can be fatal.

Cats are especially susceptible, DeBess said. Although dogs can become infected, they're what's known as sentinel animals in that they don't show any symptoms.

Plague symptoms usually appear one to four days after exposure and include fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, abdominal pain and pneumonia.

DeBess said this latest case should not cause panic but push people towards prevention.

"This is a reminder to use flea treatment and to watch for illnesses that we might not normally think of," he said.

Check with your vet on the best flea treatments for your pets. People can guard against flew bites with insect repellent. Additional measures may be necessary in areas rife with rodents, including tucking pant cuffs into socks.

Obviously, avoid contact with mice and rats. And if you -- or your pets get sick -- seek medical help.
 

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This is the 4th animal in the NW to get it this year. I just saw that in a news story. I want to say it was KPTV. This article says the last case was in 2005...I don't know who to believe! :)
 

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The good news is that this is easily treated with antibiotics, the bad thing is that the symptons are so generic they could be mistaken for the flu....

We have four cats, two of those hunt (the female is the pudgy housecat and just keeps the bugs under control, the other is always tucked away from the scray world), and the oldest catches and eats pretty much anything. He loves rodents, and this does concern me, we do use Advantage, but this does not mean he, and us will not be exposed. We are out in the country and there is a lot of rodents, and without the cats would have a whole lot more around.

As with any infection from bacteria, being healthy increases your bodies ability to fight it off, but yet this is not your normal staph infection either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just a scary thought, the plague.......I wonder, this is really the first I have heard of it cropping up, if it has always been there, showing up here and there unreported, or is this just re-emerging after centuries of being dormant? If so, what conditions have brought it back?

Can people build an immunity to it like other bacteria and viruses?
 

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I worry more about smallpox and dengue fever than the plague. Being close to the border with Mexico, you never know what is coming. They also have problems with hemorrhagic Hepatitis A.
 

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I worry more about smallpox and dengue fever than the plague. Being close to the border with Mexico, you never know what is coming. They also have problems with hemorrhagic Hepatitis A.
You can take smallpox off your list of things to worry about.
Smallpox is one of the two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest, which was declared eradicated in 2011.
Smallpox only exist in 2 places the CDC and their counterpart in Russia I believe.
 

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You can take smallpox off your list of things to worry about.
Smallpox is one of the two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest, which was declared eradicated in 2011.
Smallpox only exist in 2 places the CDC and their counterpart in Russia I believe.
This is exactly WHY smallpox scares the hell out of me. When I was 22 years old, stationed in NAMRU3 (Naval Medical Research Unit) in Cairo Egypt, we were doing medical research on all SORTS of BH1,2,3 level stuff. Y2K was coming and they had freezers full of specimens and an electronic tracking system that we knew would die come Y2K.

They tasked me with coming up with a system (written in Microsoft Access) to track the over 2 million specimens in our freezers. To say that the system was sloppy (I wasn't as much of a guru in MS Access as I'd hoped) is an understatement. But it was functional, and as far as I know, they're still using the same MS Access system to this day.

All of this is monitored by the Foreign Service Nationals (Egyptians) that work at the facility. Now, to be fair, the guys that I worked with there were awesome. I honestly believe we had all of the smartest people in Egypt right on that base. But that just got me thinking about how easily someone could pocket a vial and walk out. It's no where NEAR as secure as they pretend to be in the movies.

It's specifically BECAUSE Small Pox has been completely eradicated that it scares me. After so long, there's not a human alive with a natural immunity to it, and there's only enough vaccination worldwide to protect maybe 100 million people.

Small Pox was last seen in the U.S. in 1949, when our population was less than 150 million. It was eradicated from the planet in 1978 when the U.S. population was less than 223 million. Today there's over 313 million in the U.S. The density of our population has more than doubled while our travel (long work commutes, planes, etc.) all make it VERY EASY for an airborne virus to travel VERY QUICKLY. If untreated within the first week of exposure, 52% of people will die from Small Pox. The 48% that are left to deal with the collapsing infrastructure and rotting bodies will have their own problems in the form of common diseases killing off weakened people that would otherwise have been able to fight it off. By the time enough vaccine was mass produced, then distributed, the damage would already be done.

Around this time, THIS is when the bubonic plague will rear its ugly head.

Yeah, Small Pox scares the bejeezus out of me. We should have destroyed the last samples in 1993 when we agreed to, but we're so afraid of "the other guy" having something we don't that we refuse to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Many things have become resistant to antibiotics of almost all sorts. This is really scary, since even a simple staph infection could wind up killing someone because antibiotics were not helping.
 
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