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Deschutes County reports human plague case linked to infected pet cat

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BEND, Ore. (KATU) — Deschutes County confirms a case of human plague in a local Central Oregon resident. Officials say the person was likely infected by their symptomatic 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.

Officials say symptoms of plague usually begin in humans two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea.

Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and or visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.

The last case reported in Oregon came in 2015. Plague 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 to disease, officials said.

The Deschutes County Health Services has provided the following tips to prevent the spread of plague:

More information is available on the Deschutes County Health Services website.

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