Person contracts Black Plague from cat in Oregon, how likely is that in Texas?

A person in Oregon was recently diagnosed with the Black Plague. 

Health officials say that's the first case in the state since 2015, and the patient was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat.

"It's very rare here in Texas," Dr. Alexis Bardzinski, medical director at Austin Pets Alive, said. 

The plague is more likely to be seen in the Southwestern states.

According to the CDC, there have been nine cases reported in Texas between 1970 and 2020. 

Experts say plague can be spread to humans through a bite from an infected flea or contact with a sick animal. Squirrels, mice, and rodents can carry the disease. 

"The most important thing is to make sure your cats and dogs have preventatives for fleas so that a flea jumps on them, bites them, [the fleas] die, because this is transmitted by fleas. It's more fleas off the rodents that carry the bacteria," Bardzinski said.

Symptoms of plague in both pets and humans include fever, weakness, and swelling. 


"Humans are, they're going to get fevers. They're going to get swollen lymph nodes, and just really feel bad. They can progress. It's the same thing, progress to a really bad pneumonia," Bardzinski said. 

The Oregon case was identified and treated in the early stages.

For pets and humans, the longer you wait, the harder it can be to treat. 

"If it's just the bubonic plague, and it's actually affecting the outer limbs, the lymph nodes and whatnot, not going like, super internally, then they have a better chance of beating it with antibiotics," Bardzinski said.

To prevent the plague, experts say you should avoid rodents and their fleas, don't let pets approach dead rodents, and use flea control products.

"If this person really got it from the cat, that is a super rare thing because the fleas from dogs and cats normally don't transmit it. It's more from the rodents," Bardzinski said.

She also recommends looking over your cats to make sure they don't have swelling, but be careful about touching abscesses. 

Also, make sure they're eating normally, because if they don't, it's a sign they're not feeling well.

If your pet has a fever, isn't feeling well, or has bumps under its chin, get it checked out by a veterinarian.