The plague is almost never seen in the U.S., because the extremely rare disease affects around 7 people every year. This woman from Portland, Oregon, has just received her test results, and health officials have confirmed the plague diagnosis on Friday, boston.com reports.
The lady, who wished to remain unidentified, was helping a friend save a cat after the stray feline had choked on a mouse. 60-year-old Paul Gaylord was also bitten and showed signs of contracting the disease right away. The man faced near death and was hospitalized for a month, which he spent on life support in an Oregon hospital.
The plague is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis and is carried by animals and humans. During the middle ages, it was referred to as the “black death.” It could as easily have been transmitted through a fly bite if the two had taken the cat in. The disease is extremely contagious, and can be spread by direct contact with the infected host.
The woman showed symptoms such as fever, chills and painful lymph nodes. Lymph nodes play the role of filtering bacteria and viruses out of the human body. Since the disease was caught early in this case, the woman will recover. She is currently taking antibiotics at a hospital in Crook County, Portland.
Treatment started after the woman developed early symptoms, as doctors were cautious enough not to wait for the lab confirmation of their diagnosis.
The lady was saved because she sought treatment quickly after displaying symptoms. If she had waited, doctors say it would have been too late. If untreated, the plague is deadly.
‘We got to her just in time, […] If this hadn’t happened, we would have had another critically ill person on our hands,’’ Karen Yeargain of the Crook County Health Department, stated.