Just in time for Halloween, one of the most terrifying diseases known to man has reared its head in Oregon. A teenage girl is recovering after she came down with a case of bubonic plague, according to the Oregon Health Authority and the Crook County Public Health Department.
The girl likely caught the plague from bacteria on an infected flea while she was on a hunting trip.
This isn’t the only case of the plague that’s cropped up since the “Black Death” wiped out as much as 60 percent of the population of Europe. Squirrels, chipmunks, and other wild rodents and their fleas carry the disease. Luckily, it’s not normally deadly — since 1995, eight human cases have been diagnosed, with no deaths.
“Many people think of the plague as a disease of the past, but it’s still very much present in our environment, particularly among wildlife,” said Emilio DeBess, DVM, state public health veterinarian in the Public Health Division’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section in a statement.
“Fortunately, plague remains a rare disease, but people need to take appropriate precautions with wildlife and their pets to keep it that way.”
When hunting, hiking, or playing with rodents this spooky season, remember that that the plague is still alive and well.