US patient contracts bubonic plague from pet cat

US patient contracts bubonic plague from pet cat

A US patient who contracted the bubonic plague likely contracted it from their pet cat, health officials have said.

The resident of Deschutes County, Oregon, was the first reported case of the bubonic plague since 2015.

In a recent statement, officials said the patient’s pet cat had been “symptomatic”.

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“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” Deschutes County Health Officer Dr Richard Fawcett said.

Symptoms of plague usually begin in humans two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea and include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.

If not diagnosed early, bubonic plague can progress to septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and pneumonic plague (lung infection), which are more severe and difficult to treat.

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However, officials said this case was identified and treated at an earlier stage, and no additional cases have emerged in the community.

Bubonic plague spreads to humans and animals through a bite from an infected flea – or by contact with a human or animal sick with the disease.

Historically, rats were thought to cause the plague, but they were in reality carriers between fleas and household pets and people. 

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