Press and Pop Culture

Oregon Plague Update

Paul Gaylord, the Oregon man who contracted the plague last month is recovering after a particularly nasty struggle with both bubonic and septicemic forms, at least according to the LA Times. He will lose some of his fingers and toes but should otherwise be okay.

Gaylord’s plague-stricken hand doesn’t look good. From LA Times story.

The story seems to have changed a bit since it was first reported. Last month Gaylord had been trying to save a mouse from a cat. Now apparently he was trying to save the cat from choking on the mouse. In the process he was bit by the cat. In the end, however, he had to shoot the cat to put it out of its misery.

Like most recent cases of the plague, this was an isolated incident. While the cat tested positive for plague, other animals in the area were tested and showed no signs of plague infection. Further, there was no evidence of dead rodents or animals that indicated a broader problem.

Perhaps most interesting, to me anyway, is the religious overtones in an article in the Oregonian. The family seems to attribute much of Gaylord’s recovery to God’s intervention. According to the reporter, as the family was preparing for his death, they

… called the hospital’s chaplain. Gaylord had always wanted to be baptized, so they held a ceremony in intensive care about a week after he entered the hospital.
With Gaylord unconscious, tied to a web of tubes, the chaplain read the liturgy and performed the rite. He took a ball of cotton, dipped it into a tiny pitcher and traced the sign of the cross on Gaylord’s forehead, hands and feet.
Hours later, doctors told his family that he had improved.
“It was a miracle,” Diana Gaylord said.

Whatever role medicine played in Gaylord’s recovery, it plays little or no role in the reporting of it. In 2012 as in 1350 God is both the source of and the salvation from the plague. Plus ça change