US man gets ‘plague’ after being bitten by a mouse

Adam Parris-Long

A man in Oregon is believed to have contracted the plague, the disease which caused the Black Death, after being bitten by a mouse.

The unnamed man, in his 50s, is said to have caught the disease after attempting to remove the mouse from the mouth of a stray cat - though it is not known which animal he caught the disease from. Health officials in Oregon said that the man showed symptoms of the disease which wiped out more than 25 million people in Europe between 1348 and 1350.

After getting a fever the man had swollen lymph nodes in his groin and armpits - hallmarks of bubonic plague. He had bleeding and abdominal pain which are also symptoms of the disease. Tests on the man are ongoing.

“This can be a serious illness,” said Emilio DeBess, Oregon's public health veterinarian.

“But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it's also preventable. Taking a mouse out of a cat's mouth is probably not a good idea.”

The case is reportedly the fifth of its kind in Oregon since 1995, while 11 cases of the plague are reported in the US every year. Since 1934 four people have died from symptoms of the infection.

The stray cat involved in the incident has since died and is being tested by experts.