You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Arizona execution drug case heads to Supreme Court
    A case challenging Arizona’s refusal to reveal detailed information about the lethal drugs it plans to use to put an inmate to death is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Murder charges filed in California bank robbery
    A 19-year-old California man was charged Monday with three counts of murder in the deaths of a hostage and two alleged accomplices, and 22 counts of attempted murder of police officers in a bank robbery and running gun battle.
  • Judge won’t lift Fla. Keys gay marriage stay
    A Florida Keys judge who last week ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional refused Monday to allow gay couples to begin marrying in Monroe County, citing a pending appeal by the state attorney general.
Advertisement
Associated Press
Paul Gaylord, 59, lost strength in his hands and toes from a medieval-age plague.

Welder stricken by plague

– One look at Paul Gaylord’s hands shows why the plague is referred to as “Black Death.”

The welder’s once-strong hands have been withered by the cell-killing infection and darkened to the color of charcoal. Doctors are waiting to see whether they can save a portion of his fingers, but the outlook is grim for the man who needs them for his livelihood.

“I don’t think I can do my job,” Gaylord said in a phone interview from a Bend, Ore., hospital. “I’m going to lose all my fingers on both hands. I don’t know about my thumbs. The toes – I might lose all them, too.”

Gaylord, 59, contracted a rare case of the plague trying to take a mouse from the jaws of a choking cat in Prineville, in rural Oregon.

He faces a difficult recovery now that he’s out of intensive care. His family is trying to raise money to get him into a new house, because the manufactured home he was living in has a leaky roof, a moldy bathroom and mice – risky living conditions for a man with a weak immune system.

“We didn’t even know the plague was around anymore,” said his sister, Diana Gaylord.

The bacterium that causes the plague is spread by fleas, which can infect people and animals. The illness that killed millions in the Middle Ages is rare today.

Gaylord’s illness began after he saw a stray cat with a dead mouse jammed in the back of his throat. The cat appeared to be choking, so Gaylord attempted to dislodge the mouse.

The distressed cat bit his hand. Unable to remove the mouse, Gaylord shot the cat to end its suffering and buried him in the yard. Two days later, he awoke with a fever and chills.

Diana Gaylord said her brother dripped with sweat and his lymph nodes swelled.

“He had a lump under his arm swollen almost as big as a lemon.”

Gaylord spent nearly a month on life support and only recently left the intensive care unit.

The cat’s body was dug up, and tests confirmed it had the plague.

Gaylord is slowly getting better. He is now able to take strolls through the hospital with the aid of a walker, and the family hopes he can return home by October.

Advertisement