PORTLAND, Ore. — Health officials have confirmed that an Oregon man has the plague after he was bitten while trying to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat.
The unidentified Prineville, Ore., man was in critical condition on Friday. He is suffering from a blood-borne version of the disease that wiped out at least one-third of Europe in the 14th century — that one, the bubonic plague, affects lymph nodes.
There is an average of seven human plague cases in the U.S. each year. A map maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that most cases since the 1970s have been in the West, primarily the southwest.
The plague bacteria cycles through rodent populations without killing them off; in urban areas, it’s transmitted back and forth from rats to fleas. There’s even a name for it, the “enzootic cycle.”
The bacteria thrive in forests, semi-arid areas and grasslands, which plague-carrying rodents from wood rats to rock squirrels call home.
Once a coin flip with death, the plague is now easier to handle for humans in the U.S. The national mortality rate stood at 66 percent before World War II, but advances in antibiotics dropped that rate to its present 16 percent.
Former Goldman Sachs director convicted in NYC
NEW YORK — Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta lived the American Dream before being led astray by a wealthy friend who was a master at insider trading.
That was the view of two jurors who on Friday voted with 10 others to convict Gupta of three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy for sharing corporate secrets with hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.
With the verdict, Gupta became the most prominent defendant convicted so far in a wide-ranging Wall Street inquiry conducted by investigators armed with wiretaps.
Prosecutors had alleged that Gupta’s tips gave Rajaratnam an edge over ordinary investors on trades of more than 350,000 shares of Goldman stock in 2008.
Air traffic controllers aren’t keeping to no-doze schedule
WASHINGTON — New regulations intended to keep air traffic controllers from dozing off on duty have been violated nearly 4,000 times, according to internal Federal Aviation Administration documents.
After a controller fell asleep last year in the tower at Reagan National Airport, it emerged that such lapses were commonplace at airports across the country, and the FAA said it would act to curb the problem.
But a memo to more than 400 frontline FAA managers this month said a five-month internal review earlier this year uncovered repeated violations of a requirement that controllers have at least nine hours off between shifts. More than half of the airport control towers were found to have violated the rule at least once. One facility broke the rule scores of times.
The FAA suspended or fired several controllers for sleeping on the job last year, and the controversy contributed to the ouster of the head of the FAA’s air traffic control organization.
Syria observer chief says violence derails mission
BEIRUT — The head of the U.N. observers in Syria said Friday a spike in bloodshed is derailing the mission to monitor and defuse more than a year of violence, raising questions about how effective the unarmed force can be in a conflict that every day looks more like a civil war.
The troubles facing the observer mission are the latest sign that an international peace plan for Syria is disintegrating. Western powers have pinned their hopes on the plan, brokered two months ago by special envoy Kofi Annan, in part because there are no other options on the table. There is little support for military intervention, and several rounds of sanctions have failed to stop the bloodshed.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus there was a concern among the states providing observers that the risk is approaching an unacceptable level — suggesting the violence could prompt the nearly 300 observers to pull out of the country at some point.
Mood’s comments were the clearest sign yet that Annan’s peace plan is falling apart. The regime and the opposition have ignored a cease-fire that was supposed to go into effect April 12.