Did you know that people were still getting the plague? It's true: a CDC report in August listed 11 people who had contracted the plague in 2015. Now we can add another person to that sad tally: a 16-year-old girl who developed a case of the bubonic plague in Oregon. Officials there confirmed on Friday that she was stricken with the dangerous disease after taking a hunting trip, where she was most likely infected by a flea. She was placed in intensive care, but she has since been moved out of the ICU.
The plague is most famously known as the source of the horrific Black Death which swept across Europe in the 14th century, killing tens of millions of people across the continent. But its terrors were not contained to that period; Europe suffered plague outbreaks for hundreds of years afterwards, and a pandemic caused the deaths of at least ten million people in China at the end of the 19th century. Since then, plague has continued to pop up all around the world, though never with the same deadly force.
Apparently, it's also a known quantity in Oregon, as local station KGW reported:
"The challenge in Oregon is both avoiding it in the first place, and then, making sure that people, especially in eastern Oregon, are aware that while rare, it's present and to make sure that doctors also know," said Katrina Hedberg, state epidemiologist and health officer.
Let that be a lesson to anyone hanging around fleas and rodents in Oregon, or really anywhere. They don't tell you to stay away from those creatures for no reason, after all.