Posted in Health, news, plague

Three Cats Test Positive for the Plague in Wyoming

In the last 6 months, three cats in Wyoming have tested positive for the plague.

Currently there are no known humans affected, however, under 10 human cases on average occur each year in the United States.

The type of plague the cats tested positive for was bubonic.  So here’s the breakdown.

What causes the plague?

The plague as we know it is most commonly caused by a bacteria called, Yersenia pestis.

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Image from Fine Art America

 

How does one come down with the plague?

The victim usually acquires the plague from being bit by a flea who fed on infected animals such as rodents, or by contact with one who has the plague.  Cat scratches from domesticated cats who are infected have been documented as a form of transmission.

Direct contact with infected bodily fluids could spread the plague as well. Pneumonic plague can be spread through a cough or sneeze.

What are the types of plague?

There are three types of plague:

Bubonic – the most common, at first affects the lymph nodes, but may spread to throughout the body

Pneumonic – infects the lungs and may be spread from person to person by respiratory droplet.

Septicemic – infects the blood stream and can be the result of untreated bubonic and pneumonic plague

What are the symptoms of the plague?

For all three types of the plague one can have:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • Headache

But with bubonic plague, one may have large “bubos” or swollen glands in the neck, underarm, or pelvic/groin region.

With pneumonic plague, one may additionally have cough, shortness of breath and blood in their sputum.

How is the plague treated?

Due to the disease spreading quickly, in some cases causing death within 24 hours, antibiotics need to be instituted immediately.

These include:

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin

Moreover supportive measures such as IV fluids and oxygen may be needed as well depending on the severity of symptoms.

How can one avoid the plague?

Flea control is paramount.  So insect repellent for humans, and flea control products will help limit bites from the infected insects.

Moreover avoid rodents and clean out areas in and around your house to avoid them from scurrying around.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

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