Oregon health officials confirmed this week that a teenage girl in Oregon's Crook County has shrunk mumps. The girl probably caught the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip in northern Oregon and is currently recovering in an intensive care unit at a local hospital.
Vibrant plague – yes, the same disease as the "Black Death" that destroyed Europe in the Middle Ages – is an infection caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria transported by rodents, such as rats, squirrels and gilt, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People take it from biting with fleas, which stifles it from their diet with infected rodents.
"Many people think the plague is a disease of the past, but it is still very present in our environment, especially among wildlife," Emilio DeBess, a veterinary surgeon at Oregon's Public Health Directorate, told a press release. "Fortunately, plague remains a rare disease, but people have to take appropriate precautions with wildlife and their pets to keep it that way."
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To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, the CDC recommends avoiding dead or dead rodents, rabbits and squirrels, taking care of your pet for fleas and cleaning any areas near your home where the rodents could live .
After being pinched by a flea that carries the bacteria, symptoms usually develop two to six days after being bite, including sudden fever, headache, chills, and painful, swollen lymph nodes (known as buboes). Without immediate antibiotic treatment, the infection can spread to the bloodstream (septic plague) or lungs (lung plague), both of which are fatal.
Bumpy plaque can also lead to gangrene in the toes and toes. In 2012, another Oregon patient lost his fingers and toes after catching the plague by handling a mouse cat caught by the pet cat, according to Associated Press.
All this sounds terrible, but the good news is that in addition to their scarcity in the United States, most of those contributing to the virus will recover by direct antibiotic treatment.
While the infection is severe, the overall mortality rate for the plague today is 11%, compared to 66% prior to the invention of the antibiotics.
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