Cats test positive for bubonic plague


JOHNSON COUNTY, Wyo. (WZTV) - Three cats have tested positive for the plague in Wyoming, laboratory testing revealed to the state's Department of Health.

A cat in Kaycee, Wyoming "known to wander outdoors" is the latest infected with the plague, making it the third plague-impacted cat in the state over the past six months. The other two cases were confirmed in cats living in Sheridan and Campbell counties.

“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. “The disease can be passed to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals. We are letting people know of the potential threat in the cat’s home area as well as across the state.”

No human cases have been identified at this time. Although there is an average of seven human plague cases each year in the United States.

“While the disease is rare in humans, plague occurs naturally in the western United States in areas where rodents and their fleas become infected,” Harrist said.

Plague symptoms in people can include fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Symptoms in pets can include enlarged lymph glands; swelling in the neck, face or around the ears; fever; chills; lack of energy; coughing; vomiting; diarrhea and dehydration.

The Wyoming Department of Heath recommended the following precautions to help prevent plague:

- Use insect repellent on boots and pants when in areas that might have fleas

- Use flea repellent on pets, and properly dispose of rodents pets may bring home

- Avoid unnecessary exposure to rodents

- Avoid contact with rodent carcasses

- Avoid areas with unexplained rodent die-offs

More information about the plague can be found here.

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