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Black Death Discovered In Oregon 404

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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  • stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by donaggie03 ( 769758 ) <d_osmeyer@hotma i l . com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:05PM (#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 @03:06PM (#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.

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

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:07PM (#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...

  • This is hardly news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:11PM (#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 tirerim ( 1108567 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:27PM (#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.
  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:29PM (#40345937)

    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.

  • Not a big deal. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:35PM (#40345979)

    Exactly this. In the Southwestern US there is a case of plague every couple of years. Not a big deal unless it isn't diagnosed and treated rapidly. It probably shows up in other areas of the world as well.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:16PM (#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.


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

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:17PM (#40346255)

    The summary specifies it was a stray cat. Who the hell tries to pry open the mouth of a stray cat? You have no idea what kinds of bacteria, viruses, or other nasty infectious things are living in a stray cat's mouth.

    Although we certainly know now.

  • by equex ( 747231 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:27PM (#40346311) Homepage
  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:2, Informative)

    by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:35PM (#40346375)

    How insightful of you. I bet you knew that right out of your ass: [] (yes, five hundred years IS evolutionarily significant, although perhaps not enough so for us to all grow teeth on our penises)

  • Non story (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:37PM (#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.
  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:44PM (#40346437)

    Except the appropriate onomatopoeia is woosh. A swoosh is the symbol on Nike gear.

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

    by MrWeelson ( 948337 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @04:56PM (#40346493)

    You probably mean Arthur C Clarke who many think 'invented' the geosynchronous satellite...or brought it into the public arena.

    No idea if he smoked pot though.

  • Re:Not a big deal. (Score:4, Informative)

    by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @05:28PM (#40346653) Homepage Journal

    My brother-in-law is a veterinarian in southeast Utah, and he found one of those "every few years" cases of bubonic plague a few years back. He told me the same thing - a case pops up every few years.

  • by Prune ( 557140 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @05:32PM (#40346673)
    You are wrong. Black Death DNA was extracted from teeth of victims in the Tower of London and it's the same Y. pestis as we have today: []
  • More than that... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bashibazouk ( 582054 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @05:35PM (#40346689) Journal

    From the linked article:

    Even though there are about seven cases of the Black Plague in the U.S. each year, most cases have been in the West and the Southweset, the bacterium is considerably less fatal than it once was. According to the CDC, 1 in 7 cases are fatal, but the disease can now be treated with antibiotics.

    I know, I know I'm not supposed to read the article...

  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @07:42PM (#40347659) Homepage

    Civil infraction 27-5 against county Code 54.2.1 Hiding your pot in a fake mouse is a mistreatment in this county.

    $350.00 fine or 2 days in jail.

    There is your citation, you can pay it at the county clerks office.

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

    by LandGator ( 625199 ) <john.bartley @ g m a i l . c om> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:17PM (#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.
  • by drkstr1 ( 2072368 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:50PM (#40348441)
    I am actually a better programmer after smoking a _small_ amount. My right-brained creative problem solving abilities are greatly increased, at the expense of some of my left-brained activities (such as doing math in my head). This is particularly important for me, a heavily left-brained thinker. Whenever I get stuck on a problem, I go have a "smoke break," and suddenly I have all kinds of ideas flowing through my head (some of which are even good). Results will vary depending on the person though.
  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:28PM (#40348931) Journal

    Oh if you get a chance you really must go, and not just for the most delicious pot. you should really bring a camera and be ready to stop almost constantly because the vistas you will see are truly some of the most breathtaking i have ever seen, with huge valley scenes with incredible peaks and cliffs and flowing water everywhere, it is truly a wondrous view of nature that one simply must see with your own eyes. I swear you can simply pull on the side of the road in a large chunk of the Ozarks and the view is like standing on this great peak, with all this beautiful unspoiled wonder spread out before you, quite inspiring.

    But I can assure you that its true that in places where there is a lot of fertile land and pot being grown you'll find as many flavors and textures as you do alcohol, everything from lightly mellow to harsh, from sweet to skunky, from tasty to almost medicinal in flavor. If I were to describe the typical pot from the Ozarks it would be peaty with a slight sweet overtone, with a very forest scent, kinda like a mix of pine and juniper, quite lovely. If one were to go to the swampier south AR the pot is more musky, nice tasting but with a definite skunk scent, while the northeast area close to Memphis favors pot that has a much sweeter taste and aroma, almost candy like.

    In a way pot is a LOT like wine in that the kind of soil the plant is grown in and the conditions of the area does seem to cause differences in taste and texture not to mention buzz. I have a feeling most of the pot you've had has been either imported or been grown by mega-growers, their weed tends to be extra strong but not very much in the way of variety, kinda like the rotgut of old. And I can't believe that I'm sitting here actually judging flavors of various cultivars, but as a musician I've got to sample quite a few from different areas and there are some overall themes when it comes to pot grown in certain areas. Oh and FYI the worst pot I ever smoked was East Texas, it'll knock you on your ass but tastes like cheap cigarettes smell, a real ditchweed harsh nasty flavoring.

  • Re:Darwin in action. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <evonreis@mohr-engineerin g . com> on Sunday June 17, 2012 @06:18AM (#40350409) Homepage Journal

    If you can survive and reproduce, you aren't genetically defective.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak