Man May Have Caught Plague from a StrayPublished June 18, 2012
cat and mouse: Getty
A man in Oregon may have caught the plague from either a stray cat or mouse. The plague is treatable with antibiotics, and it’s preventable too.
One thing to keep in mind if you don’t want to catch the plague: use caution around cats and mice.
The man in question was trying to get a mouse away from a stray cat when one of the two bit him, according to Oregon Live.
While no reason was given for the man’s bizarre behavior, several days after he tried to steal the mouse from a hungry kitty, he became seriously ill.
St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon told The Oregonian newspaper, that health officials reported the man was at "death's door,” in critical condition, suffering with a rare case of Septicemic plague. According to doctors contributing to the report, the bacteria were spreading through his bloodstream. The disease, which is sometimes fatal, is also known more familiarly as the "Black Death" plague.
Oregon Live said the County Health Department's communicable disease coordinator reported that officials were attempting to confirm that, if in fact, the man really was infected with the plague. He had all the symptoms of the disease which included bleeding from the mouth, nose, dying tissue and stomach pain. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the unidentified victim would be only the fifth person in the state to become infected since 1995.
In the United States, only 10-15 people become infected annually with the plague, according to the Oregon Live article. The majority of these cases have been found mainly the western part of the United States.
Centers for Disease Control report that about 1,000 to 3,000 cases of the plague occur around the world, annually. In the 14th century when the disease spread like wild-fire throughout Europe, about 75 million people succumbed to the "Black Death", which accounted for a third of the population.
The bacterium that causes the plague is generally carried by rat-borne fleas. Humans can become infected with the plague by contact with rodents and other animals who are infested with infected fleas. While the disease can be treated with antibiotics, CDC officials say that 1 in 7 cases are fatal.
Health officials in Oregon are not certain if the man was bitten by the mouse or the stray cat. The cat, who subsequently died, had been hanging out for almost six years in the Crook County rural neighborhood where the victim lived. The cat's remains have been sent for testing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The prudent advice offered to the public by Oregon’s public health veterinarian was "Taking a mouse out of a cat's mouth is probably not a good idea."
Health officials advise that dogs and cats should be treated with safe and efficient topical flea control products. Although it is not 100% effective, the risk of pets becoming infected is minimized.
But what I cannot wrap my head around is what in the world motivated the man to steal a mouse from a stray cat in the first place.
What do you think about this bizarre behavior? Share your ideas in a comment.