Protect Yourself and Your Pets from the Spread of the Plague
According to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) laboratory testing at the University of Wyoming recently confirmed cat living in Johnson County was infected with the bubonic plague.
The results were confirmed by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.
This is the third plague-infected cat identified in Wyoming over a six-month time span.
The cat, who was known to go outside, is from Kaycee, Wyoming, while the other felines are from Sheridan and Campbell counties. The last-known human case for Wyoming happened in 2008, but an average number of seven cases are reported each year in the United States.
“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and people if not treated as soon as possible with antibiotics,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.
What is Bubonic Plague?
While the plague is commonly known to spread from rodents such as rats and raccoons, it starts with infected fleas.
Affecting humans and other mammals, the bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
It is infamous for killing millions of Europeans during the Black Death. Today, modern antibiotics can treat the plague. Without treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.
Presently, plague infections have been found in the United States, albeit a rare occurrence.
It is significantly more common in parts of Africa and Asia. But, with the plague being spread easily from infected fleas to rodents, humans, and other animals it is important to prevent the disease.
How the Plague Spreads
The plague bacteria can be transmitted in a multitude of ways, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges US citizens to know and understand how to prevent the bubonic plague from spreading.
Most frequently, plague bacteria are transmitted when an infected flea bites a human, rodent, or other animal.
Once the rodent dies, the infected fleas leave in search of a new host. Dogs and cats are at a higher risk of carrying these fleas into the home.
People and animals that have visited places where infected rodents have died are at a higher risk of being infected from flea bites.
Humans can quickly become infected from handling tissue or bodily fluids of a plague-infected animal.
A person who has been infected with the bubonic plague is likely to spread the bacteria while coughing into the air. This is the only way the plague can spread between people, though it has not been a documented occurrence in the United States since 1924 it is still common in other areas of the world.
Cats are susceptible to contracting bubonic plague due to their hunting nature and ultimately eating infected rodents. This poses a threat for owners and veterinarians.
Bubonic Plague Symptoms
People who have contracted the bubonic plague will develop a sudden onset of symptoms.
Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and weakness. They can also experience swollen, tender, and pain in their lymph nodes. The bacteria from the infected flea bite will multiple in the lymph node that is closest to the area where the bacteria entered the body.
If the patient is not treated, the bacteria can spread to other areas of the body.
Symptoms in pets can include enlarged lymph glands, swelling, fever, chills, tiredness, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Prevent the Bubonic Plague from Spreading
Since the primary source for spreading the plague are infected rodents, it’s important to keep them out of your home.
Rodents, such as rats, will take advantage of your home because it is source of shelter, nesting materials, as well as food.
Even if a rodent is not infected with the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, they still have the potential to spread other bacteria and diseases like hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and Lassa fever. It is also possible that they are carrying an infected flea but haven’t been bitten yet.
To protect your home from a potential infestation, contact a rodent control professional immediately for rodent control and removal services.