Black Plague Leaves Oregon Man in Critical Condition

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An Oregon man is in critical condition this week after apparently contracting the plague. Yes, the plague generally associated with the Middle Ages.

Oregon health officials believe the hospitalized man was infected with the "black death" plague, a bacterial infection that affects the blood stream.

According to The Oregonian, the Bend resident became ill with the bubonic plague - the cause of the "black death" - after he was bitten on the hand.

A stray cat bit him while he was trying to get a mouse out of its mouth ... for reasons unknown. He was listed in critical condition at the hospital.

It's actually the fifth case in Oregon since 1995. The stray cat has since died, and has been sent to the Center for Disease Control for testing.

Often transmitted by fleas that are infected with the Yersinia pestis bacteria, black plague is transmitted through bites, according to the CDC.

Symptoms include a swollen lymph gland known as a "bubo," fever, chills, headache, and exhaustion. Illness usually occurs 2-6 days after infection.

During the "Black Death" period starting in the late 1340s and lasting for centuries, 25 million lives were claimed, according to National Geographic.

For reference, Europe's population was around 70 million at the time.

"This can be a serious illness," said Emilio DeBess, Oregon's public health veterinarian said. "But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it's preventable."

Treatment consists of hospitalization, antibiotics and medical isolation. Only 1 in 7 cases in the U.S. end in death nowadays ... let's hear it for science!

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