Second case of plague confirmed in Oregon - KPTV - FOX 12

Second case of plague confirmed in Oregon

Posted: Updated: Sep 14, 2012 02:22 PM

New lab results show a second person became infected with the plague in June after being bitten by a sick cat, health officials in Oregon said Friday.

The woman was bitten around the same time as a Prineville man who became ill with the plague in June. He had tried to take a dead rodent from the cat's mouth in a rural area outside the Central Oregon city. The man became seriously ill, but survived.

Blood tests later conducted on the woman were sent to the Center for Disease Control and the results, just returned to the Crook County Health Department in Prineville, confirmed she had the plague.

Fortunately, antibiotics given to the woman in the spring were effective in stopping the plague's symptoms, officials said.

Karen Yeargain, a communicable disease coordinator in Crook County, said she first started investigating June 10 after learning of the first case of the plague.

"With the help of the sick man's family, a list was put together of all persons who might be at risk," said Karen Yeargain, of the Crook County Health Department.

Health workers said the woman happened to be at a hospital out of the area with a family member. When she tried to get treatment for the plague, she was met with disbelief by hospital staff,  Yeargain said. She soon began to experience early plague symptoms.

"With my phone call confirming that this was real, the hospital emergency department literally walked her medication to the room where she was located and got her started," Yeargain said. "We got to her just in time. If this hadn't happened, we would have had another critically ill person on our hands."

Plague is a bacterial illness spread through the bite of infected fleas or through direct contact with an animal or person who is ill with the disease. In this case, the illness did not spread from person to person.

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