A man in the US state of Oregon is critically ill after contracting what is suspected to be plague.

The unnamed man, who is in his 50’s, told doctors that he was bitten the hand after trying to save a mouse from the jaws of a stray cat. Several days later he contracted a fever and went to hospital.

The symptoms the man has shown are in line with the disease that wiped out 25 million Europeans in the 14th century – swollen lymph nodes in the armpits and groin areas and then abdominal pain and bleeding. These are the symptoms of both bubonic plague and septicaemic plague.

Bacteria in the saliva of either the cat or the mouse could have caused the infection to be passed on to the man. Normally the plague is spread from flea bites.

The last big outbreak of plague occurred in 1994 when the disease spread through five states of India. 52 people died from the outbreak, which affected 700 victims in all.

Dr Emilio DeBessm, public health veterinarian of Oregon said “This can be a serious illness. But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it’s also preventable.”

The state has a long history of plague. Recently there were two cases of plague Oregon in 2010 and one case in 2011.


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