Plague Drill In Portland To Gauge Distribution Of Antibiotics, Contagion Control

Apr 29, 2019

Tomorrow through Thursday, a thousand personnel across Oregon will respond to a deliberate – yet hypothetical – release of the plague in Portland.

Credit Liza Mastranskaya /

Most people recall reading how the plague ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages, killing millions. It’s still around.  But modern antibiotics and infection control methods have greatly reduced its impact.

The Plague, National Library of Medicine engraving.

“Since 2009, we’ve only had seven cases of the plague (in Oregon),” says Akiko Saito.  She's Director of Emergency Operations for the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division.  She says the exercise involving numerous agencies will respond to a simulated bioterrorist attack in the state’s largest city.

This includes the distribution of medical supplies, known as the Strategic National Stockpile, with police escort.

“So although they’re not really going to be transporting any actual antibiotics, we’re actually going to be exercising the fact that would be part of the processes to have security around that.”

Saito adds Oregonians don’t need to call 911 if they see an exercise-related event in their area.

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