A recent case of bubonic plague has many wondering about the rare illness that was once known as the "black death."

CNN Health is reporting that a human contracted plague in Oregon likely from their cat. The individual has received treatment and "poses 'little risk' to the community" according to the story.

But it may come as a surprise that the plague has been recorded anywhere, or that there have been almost 500 cases in the United States in the last 50+ years, according to data from the CDC. If the last time you thought about the plague was your high school history class, here's some basic information to get you up to speed as well as some information about how many cases Montana has had in recent history.

What is the Bubonic Plague?

Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague according to the Mayo Clinic, the others being septicemic plague and pneumonic plague. The CDC says that "80% of United States plague cases have been the bubonic form."

What are the Symptoms?

You might confuse the symptoms of plague with other illnesses but for bubonic plague specifically, it comes with swollen lymph nodes. The Mayo Clinic lists other bubonic plague symptoms as:

  • Sudden high fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Tiredness.
  • Not feeling well in general.
  • Weakness.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Rarely skin sores.


For a list of all plague symptoms click here.

How Do You Catch the Plague?

The Mayo Clinic explains that plague is common in rural areas because it's transferred to humans in a germ called Yersinia pestis which is often found on rats or other animals, like the cat in the recent case in Oregon.

Reported Cases of Human Plauge

Where is the Plague Most Common?

The CDC has recorded bubonic plague cases from 1970 - 2020 and during that time there was only one case reported in Montana. However, other states have recorded many more cases.

  • New Mexico: 253 cases
  • Colorado: 66 cases
  • Arizona: 65 cases
  • California: 45 cases
  • Oregon: 19 cases
  • Nevada: 7 cases

Again, the disease is rare but it's not unheard of. To learn more about the plauge visit the CDC.

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang

How Many in America: From Guns to Ghost Towns

Can you take a guess as to how many public schools are in the U.S.? Do you have any clue as to how many billionaires might be residing there? Read on to find out—and learn a thing or two about each of these selection’s cultural significance and legacy along the way.


More From Z100 Classic Rock