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Oregon Resident's Case of Bubonic Plague Tied to Pet Cat

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Oregon Resident's Case of Bubonic Plague Tied to Pet Cat


Oregon has reported its first human case of the bubonic plague since 2015, and the local health department believes the infection came from the person’s cat. Though the plague wiped out more than a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century, it’s not so deadly these days so long as antibiotics are administered, as they were early on in this case. “All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” added Dr. Richard Fawcett with the Deschutes County Health Services, per Time.

The AP reports symptoms of bubonic plague include the sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, and muscle aches, which typically begin within two to eight days of being exposed. LiveScience reports that while people are most typically infected via flea bite, it can be transmitted from the contaminated fluids or tissues of dogs, cats, and rodents including chipmunks and squirrels. A news release from Deschutes County Health Services notes “pet cats are highly susceptible to plague … If possible, discourage their hunting of rodents.” Time provides additional context:

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  • “In the US plague infections continue to occur in rural parts of the West—particularly in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Between 1900 and 2012, 1006 confirmed or probable human plague cases occurred in the United States, over 80% of which have been the bubonic form.”

(More bubonic plague stories.)





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Remains of Oregon teenager identified after 54 years using advanced genetic genealogy

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Remains of Oregon teenager identified after 54 years using advanced genetic genealogy


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The remains of a missing teenager found 54 years ago have finally been identified, the Oregon State Police said. 

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Sandra Young was a student at Portland’ Oregon’s Grant High School when she went missing in 1968 or 1969, the Oregon State Police said in a release this week. 

Her skeleton was found by a Boy Scout troop leader in 1970 in a shallow grave on Sauvie Island along the Columbia River along with the tattered remains of her clothing and a black wig.

Investigators said they suspected foul play, but no one has ever been charged in her death. 

MOTHER OF ‘BABY SKYLAR’ INFANT FOUND DEAD IN PHOENIX AIRPORT TRASH CAN ARRESTED IN COLD CASE KILLING

Sandra Young, left, and an image of what she would have looked like based on analysis of her remains.  (Oregon State Police)

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“Sandra Young has now regained her identity after 54 years,” said Dr. Nici Vance, the state’s Human Identification Program Coordinator at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. “Her story represents a remarkable amount of diligence and collaboration between family members, detectives, Oregon State Medical Examiner staff, and our contract laboratory, Parabon NanoLabs. 

“This is yet another example of the innovative ways the ME’s Office and investigative genetic genealogy can help Oregonians find closure. This technology gives investigators the powerful ability to assist all Oregon agencies with the resolution of their cold case mysteries.”

In 2004, Young’s remains were moved to the state’s medical examiner facility in Clackamas County with more than 100 other unidentified remains. 

A bone sample was sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and an anthropology report was done. 

Despite her DNA profile being added to the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS, which is a DNA database for missing persons, no matches were found.

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DNA study

Parabon NanoLabs and GEDMatch were key in identifying Sandra Young through DNA phenotyping and genetic genealogy.  (iStock)

 In 2018, Young’s case was identified as one that could possibly be solved using DNA Phenotyping and Investigative Genetic Genealogy and the Oregon State Police Medical Examiner’s Office was awarded a National Institute of Justice grant.

Using a fragment of her bone, Parabon NanoLabs used her genetic material to find that she was of West African, South African, and Northern European descent, with brown to dark brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair.

Still unidentified in 2021, a prediction of what her face looked like was created.  

EX-ARMY SOLDIER HELD FOR EXTRADITION TO GERMANY AFTER DNA LINKS HIM TO 1978 MURDER

“To see her face come to life through DNA phenotyping was striking,” Vance said. 

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Last year, someone uploaded their DNA onto GEDMatch, a genetic genealogy and family tree search company, and a match was made with Young. 

oregon state police car

Oregon State Police (Oregon State Police / Facebook)

A genetic genealogist spoke to other family members of Young’s distant relative, encouraging them to upload their DNA and eventually a family tree started to emerge. Relatives said Young had gone missing from Portland either in 1968 or 1969. 

A woman identified as Young’s sister was then interviewed by the Portland Police Bureau. 

“Through a series of informative, poignant, and difficult interviews, Detective [Heidi] Helwig learned that this individual not only lost a teenage sister when Sandra went missing in 1968 or 1969, they also lost a sister to gun violence in the 1970s,” the police said. “The family member was cooperative, supportive, and motivated to determine if the remains could be their sister, Sandra Young.”

In October, a definitive profile determined Sandra “Sandy” Young was born on June 25, 1951, and went missing in 1968 or 1969. 

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The Portland Police Bureau has been encouraged by the state police to investigate the circumstances of Young’s death. 

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Genetic genealogy casework has been highly successful but can cost up to $10,000 per case. 



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Winter weather advisory issued for Coast Range of Northwest Oregon for Sunday and Monday – up to 5 inches of snow

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Winter weather advisory issued for Coast Range of Northwest Oregon for Sunday and Monday – up to 5 inches of snow


On Saturday at 10:42 a.m. a winter weather advisory was issued by the National Weather Service valid from Sunday 7 p.m. until Monday 4 p.m. for Coast Range of Northwest Oregon.

The weather service comments, “Snow expected above 1000 feet. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 5 inches. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph, mainly on exposed higher terrain.”

“Travel could be very difficult,” says the weather service. “Slow down and use caution while traveling. Monitor the latest forecasts for updates on this situation.”

Mastering winter roads: Guidance from the weather service for safe winter travel

Winter’s icy grip often turns roads treacherous, leading to over 6,000 weather-related vehicle fatalities and more than 480,000 injuries each year. When you find yourself on snowy or freezing rain-slicked roads, your top priority should be safety. Slow down and exercise caution. In temperatures near freezing, it’s prudent to assume icy patches on the road and adjust your driving accordingly. Be on alert for ice accumulating on power lines and tree branches, as they may break and fall. If possible, avoid driving in these conditions altogether. But if you must venture out, choose routes with fewer trees and power lines, and never touch a downed power line. If you encounter one, dial 911 immediately. Here are additional winter driving tips from the weather service:

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1. Share your travel plans:

When venturing out of town in hazardous winter weather, be sure to inform family or friends of your destination, your intended route, and your estimated arrival time.

2. Prepare your vehicle:

Ensure your gas tank is full and equip your vehicle with essential winter supplies such as a windshield scraper, jumper cables, a small shovel, flashlight, cell phone, blanket, extra warm clothing, drinking water, and high-calorie non-perishable food.

3. Stay calm when stranded:

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If you become stranded, stay composed. Notify someone about your situation and location. Avoid attempting to walk to safety. Attach a cloth to your car’s antenna or mirror to signal that you require assistance. Make your vehicle more visible by using the dome light and flashers.

4. Be mindful of snow plows:

Keep an eye out for snow plows and allow them ample room to pass. Only overtake a plow when you have a clear view of the road ahead.

5. Check road conditions:

Before embarking on your journey, check the latest road conditions to make informed travel decisions.

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Stay safe on wintry roads with these valuable winter driving tips from the weather service, and reduce the risk of accidents during challenging weather conditions.

Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service provided by United Robots, which uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.



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Oregon is giving homeless young people $1,000 a month to get back on their feet. Here's how it's going.

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Oregon is giving homeless young people $1,000 a month to get back on their feet. Here's how it's going.


  • Oregon is giving some of its homeless youth $1,000 a month.
  • The state’s DHS says recipients report spending money on housing and food.
  • The program is among dozens nationwide trying to alleviate poverty with a guaranteed basic income.

Oregon has a severe homelessness problem.

It’s home to the third-worst homeless rate in the country, according to a federal count published in December. And it has the highest rate anywhere of unaccompanied homeless youth.

As state leaders scramble to address the problem, one solution is showing some promise: Give those young people $1,000 cash every month, no strings attached.

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The Oregon Department of Human Services launched its Direct Cash Transfer Plus Pilot in February 2022. The program targets homeless people between 18 to 24 who have an “intention to become housed,” the DHS wrote last year in a report on youth homelessness in the state.

So far 120 young people across the state are receiving the direct cash payments, the report says. About 75 of the recipients are in Multnomah County, home to Portland. Initial payments for participants in the program started in February 2023 and are scheduled to run until January 2025.

Participants receive payments of $ 1,000 a month. They can also receive a one-time $3,000 “enrichment fund” payment. The program started implementing the larger payment after conversations with participants who said they still had “significant financial obstacles” after receiving initial payments from the program, the document says.

The only qualification for the program is to be a young person who is unhoused, though there are other factors — like being a member of the LGBTQ+ community — that can give applicants priority. There are no limits on how participants spend the money.

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Recipients said they spent the funds mostly on housing, repairing vehicles, furniture, and moving costs, the DHS says.

While more than 65% of the participants said they were unhoused when the payments began, after six months about 63% of them said they had found housing, the report says. About 85% of recipients reported still needing “at least occasional assistance” with getting access to food.

Point Source Youth, a national nonprofit focused on addressing the problem of youth homelessness, partnered with the state to help design, plan, and structure the program. The nonprofit has helped with similar programs in other cities and states nationwide.

Anjala Huff, a senior director at the organization, told Business Insider that enrollees have been able to obtain housing, enroll in school, and purchase cars since receiving payments.

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The program’s team has helped about two-thirds of the participants find housing. The goal is for the program to act as a sort of “housing intervention” that can be funded with public money in the future, Huff said.

“It’s not just about obtaining housing. We are helping to navigate creative housing conversations on how to maintain housing beyond enrollment in the program,” Huff told Business Insider. “After receiving the cash for one year, we are seeing youth who are interested in furthering their education to jump-start their careers.”

The program also helps the young participants with other strategies to ensure long-term housing, like reducing debt, sharing housing, finding higher paying jobs, and accessing community resources, Huff said.

Oregon lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering a bill that would provide 12 monthly payments of $1,000 to people who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, severely rent-burdened, or earn at or below 60% percent of median area income.

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Several other states and cities nationwide are experimenting with guaranteed basic income plans, which are different than universal basic income plans because they target specific groups of people, but are similar in that they are direct cash transfers with no limits on how recipients can spend it.

The Baltimore Young Families Success Fund, for example, gives young parents in the city $1,000 a month. Tonaeya Moore, director of policy of the CASH Campaign of Maryland, previously told BI that surveys suggest participants mostly spent their money on the same general necessities, such as housing and food.

In Denver, the city recently extended a basic income program offering some residents up to $1,000 a month after participants reported increased housing security. And researchers in Austin found that most participants in a similar program there spent most of their funds on food and housing.

Despite the apparent success of these small regional experiments, not everyone is on board. Lawmakers in Iowa, South Dakota, Arizona, and elsewhere have proposed bills that would prevent such programs from taking place.

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In January, Texas state Sen. Paul Bettencourt sent a letter to the state’s attorney general asking him to declare unconstitutional a program in Harris County, which includes Houston, to give low-income residents $500 a month.



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