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Story highlights

Health officials say teen was hunting when infected by a flea

Plague is rare in Oregon, only eight cases diagnosed in last 20 years

(CNN) —  

A teenage girl in Crook County, Oregon is in the ICU recovering from a case of bubonic plague, according to the Oregon Health Authority and the Crook County Public Health Department.

Health officials believe she contracted the bacteria from an infected flea during a hunting trip earlier this month in Morrow County, Oregon.

According to a press release, the young woman began feeling sick on October 21 and was hospitalized in Bend, Oregon on October 24.

Plague is rare in Oregon, with only eight human cases diagnosed since 1995 and no deaths, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

The plague usually occurs in rural and semi-rural areas of the western United States, most commonly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

How they survived bubonic plague, just barely

The bacteria that causes the plague is naturally occurring in the environment. Humans become infected by fleas who have fed off of infected rodents such as rats, chipmunks and squirrels.

Symptoms usually occur in two to six days after exposure and include an overall feeling of sickness, sudden fever, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting. It is successfully treated with antibiotics when caught early.

There have been 15 other human cases of the plague in the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four of those patients have died.

The CDC is working with Oregon health officials as well as local health officials in Crook, Deschutes and Marrow counties, to investigate this illness.

How do we still have the plague?