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Medicine News Science

Black Death Discovered In Oregon 404

Posted by timothy
from the oregon-the-euthanasia-state dept.
redletterdave writes "The Black Death, a strain of bubonic plague that destroyed nearly a third of Europe's entire population between 1347 and 1369, has been found in Oregon. Health officials in Portland have confirmed that a man contracted the plague after getting bitten by a cat. The unidentified man, who is currently in his 50s, had tried to pry a dead mouse from a stray cat's mouth on June 2 when the cat attacked him. Days later, fever and sickness drove the man to check himself into Oregon's St. Charles Medical Center, where he is currently in 'critical condition.'"
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Black Death Discovered In Oregon

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  • Darwin in action. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:04PM (#40345755) Homepage

    Why the hell did he think it was a good idea to try to get the dead mouse away from the cat in the first place?

    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:10PM (#40345803) Homepage Journal
      It really wasn't a dead mouse. It was a bag of pot he hid under a bush so his wife wouldn't find it. You can't really tell that to the folks at the hospital.
      • by Pi Is A Rational (1106177) <emoaddict15 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:31PM (#40345957)
        [citation needed]
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        It really wasn't a dead mouse. It was a bag of pot he hid under a bush so his wife wouldn't find it. You can't really tell that to the folks at the hospital.

        The moral of the story is never mix pot and catnip.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mannfred (2543170)
      Frankly, a man in his 50s is less likely to produce new offspring so the accident is unlikely to be of tangible benefit to the gene pool.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by zill (1690130)
        Evolution isn't just about having babies you know. If that were the case, all men would have evolved condom breaking mechanisms already. [smbc-comics.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eqisow (877574)
          Yes, because condoms have totally been around for an evolutionarily significant period of time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696)
      It might also be connected with the related news item:

      "Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage"

      • "Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage"

        Yes, watching too much football can definitely do damage. Trust me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because it could be a weakened mouse that has eaten rat poison, and then the cat dies if not treated with vitamin K to stop the internal hemorrhage.
      I've lost several cats because of this issue.

    • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:5, Informative)

      by LandGator (625199) <john DOT bartley AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @08:17PM (#40348293) Homepage Journal
      Well, Charlie was a neighborhood cat, who was well known to everyone on that street, and the sick man was in the habit of inviting Charlie in for dinner, but didn't care for the appetizer Charlie brought. The fever made Charlie atypically cranky, and Charlie chomped down... Three other folks from another household in that neighborhood are also receiving treatment, but don't have the blood-borne version, and they're doing OK. (I have neighborhood sources.) OBTW, no one has mentioned, this is in Prineville, in the High Desert of Crook County, Oregon, 2.5 hrs' drive ESE of Portland, where Facebook's data center is located and other data centers are in development.
  • stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:05PM (#40345763)
    Maybe you shouldn't be screwing around with wild animals and their food . . .
  • Bring out your dead! (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:06PM (#40345773) Homepage

    While an exciting headline, certain to raise the blood pressure of the angst brigade, this isn't terribly newsworthy. Bubonic plague has been found in animals (mostly prairie dogs in Colorado) for decades and apparently is the sixth case of plague in Oregon since 1995. It's easy to treat with antibiotics. The hardest part is actually thinking that Yersinia pestis is the causative organism.

    Bonus points for Monty Python addicts.

    • Rare, but still around. House MD had a case that turned out to be the Black Death caught from an adopted pet from Arizona about five years ago. Even rarer than lupus, and as you all know, "It's never lupus!"

    • Bubonic plague has been found in animals (mostly prairie dogs in Colorado) for decades and apparently is the sixth case of plague in Oregon since 1995.

      From TFA:

      Health officials in Portland have confirmed that a man contracted the plague...

      Hmm... I KNEW there was something that the Portlandia folks left out when they said, "The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland...." [youtube.com]

      Clown school, double-decker bicycles, and of course... bubonic plague.

      (P.S. Yes, I know this case of plague didn't originate in Portland... but neither did clown school, and clowning is apparently still going on there. Elsewhere, plague is so 1390s...)

    • by aliquis (678370)

      How sure are they it's the same?

      Seem legit:
      http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/352856/20120615/octomom-2-woman-pregnant-mouth-eating-squid.htm [ibtimes.com]
      "'Octomom' 2.0? Woman Gets 'Pregnant In The Mouth' After Eating Squid
      By Dave Smith: Subscribe to Dave's RSS feed
      June 15, 2012 5:01 PM EDT
      A 63-year-old South Korean woman was shocked to learn she "became pregnant" with 12 baby squid after eating a portion of calamari."

      Seem too good to be true, but it probably is.

  • Biggest question... (Score:5, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:07PM (#40345787)
    Why was this guy trying to pry a mouse away from a cat? That appears to be the most interesting story here...

    Really though, from TFA:

    it is treatable with antibiotics

    the bacteria thrives in forests, grasslands and any wooded areas inhabited by rats and squirrels

    Without the help of modern medicine, Europeans in the Middle Ages could do little to combat the plague.

    So this is a bacterium that is common in the wild, which can be contracted by humans but is treatable with modern medicine. It is not as though we are facing another plague here...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Good thing that bacteria cant become resistant to antibiotics, right?

      captcha: evasion

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:16PM (#40346245)

        Good thing that bacteria cant become resistant to antibiotics, right?

        Bacteria that spread from human to human can evolve antibiotic resistance relatively quickly. Bacteria that spread primarily from animal to animal, especially if those animals are wild, are much less likely to evolve resistance. I don't think we are going to start giving antibiotics to prairie dogs.

         

      • Good thing that bacteria cant become resistant to antibiotics, right?

        Sure, but there is more to keep in mind when it comes to this particular infection:

        1. Cleanliness slows the spread immensely, especially around areas where the bacteria live. One of the main reasons for the plague's spread in the middle ages was poor hygiene, as evidenced by the reduced rates of infection in communities where bathing and washing hands were common.
        2. We do not leave dead animal carcasses rotting in our streets. One of the ways this infection spreads is by fleas jumping from a dead animal to a
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        You are right. Bacteria can't become resistant to antibiotics. What happened with MSSA and such is that the resistant strains already existed, and the widespread and often inappropriate usage of antibiotics killed of the other strains, making MSSA more common. But the antibiotics didn't "create" MSSA, and and the bacteria didn't "become" resistant, but had been that way for longer than we have records.
    • by D'Sphitz (699604)
      Also:

      there are about seven cases of the Black Plague in the U.S. each year

  • by howardd21 (1001567) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:08PM (#40345793) Homepage
    Obligatory Monthy Python Reference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grbSQ6O6kbs [youtube.com] "I'm not dead yet"
  • This is hardly news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:11PM (#40345813) Homepage Journal

    Bubonic plague has been endemic (sustaining itself permanently, in this case in the animal population) in the western part of the US for years, although it is news to public health officials when a human contracts it. There was a case two years ago, also in Oregon.

    The reason it doesn't sweep the nation the way it swept Europe is advances in hygiene, public health and medical treatment. Rats and fleas in the house aren't unheard of these days, but they're no longer universal. If people are getting bit by fleas they'll call the exterminator or the board of health; they won't just accept it as a fact of life. If they contract plague they'll go to the doctor who will cure it relatively easily.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Bubonic plague has been endemic (sustaining itself permanently, in this case in the animal population) in the western part of the US for yeas...

      Yep. When I was in the US southwest in the 80's they were handing out phamplets at the national parks like the grand canyon(I think I have mine tucked away somewhere still--I was a kid and thought it was kinda cool) to avoid dead animals. This really isn't news, we see a dozen or so cases of it in Canada every year from the same way.

      • This really isn't news, we see a dozen or so cases of it in Canada every year from the same way.

        I didn't realize it was a common thing for people to pry dead mice from the mouths of stray cats. ;)

  • Ive had mine in the army. I'm not worried

  • by thatseattleguy (897282) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:17PM (#40345857) Homepage

    I can has worldwide pandemic?

  • that is all.

    Oh wait, anyone else ever know that putting something like 'PPPPPLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAGUE?!?" as a comment subject produces a "filter error: Too much repetition". Isn't it reasonable to expect that a mature person who can operate a computer and engage in discussion groups well aware enough of what constitutes too much or too little repetition?

    Because I can clearly say it in the message body, just not the subject. Yet, its exactly what I wanted the subject to be!

    • It is reasonable to expect it, yes. But it is also reasonable to expect that the immature id10t's on this board will abuse the priviledge to post that sort of crud, so society here forbids it from being possible in the first place.

  • by tirerim (1108567) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:27PM (#40345923)
    Yes, he contracted septicaemic plague, the blood-borne form of Yersinia pestis. That doesn't mean he contracted "the Black Death". The Black Death was almost certainly caused by a variant of Y. pestis which is no longer around (microorganisms tend to change a bit over the course of a few centuries). It's also the name of a specific pandemic of plague, and while there were other smaller outbreaks in the following centuries, they weren't generally referred to by that name. One human case of a disease that is now treatable with antibiotics and easy to contain does not make for a pandemic.
  • They keep finding plague in the prairie dog colonies out here. They do a news story about it every couple years. It's not really anything to get worked up about, unless you're doing something you shouldn't have been doing in the first place. Like messing with stray cats. Or maybe letting your dog run around in the prairie dog fields...
  • They've taken bets on how many days he's going to stay alive.

    Come on! The guy has no insurance!

  • "I'm not dead!"

  • Non story (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:37PM (#40346397)
    There are 1-2 cases of bubonic plague in the US every year. "Yersenia pestis" is part of the normal body flora of several animals, especially underneath the nails of the armadillo. Now when we see cipro resistant plague, then you can panic.

We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan

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