Third Cat Infected with Plague in Wyoming

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Another cat in Wyoming has been infected with the plague. The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) confirmed this is the third cat to be diagnosed with the disease in the state in six months.

The diagnosis was confirmed through laboratory testing at the University of Wyoming. Thankfully, no humans have been infected.

Plague is a sudden and sometimes fatal bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis. It is transmitted primarily by the fleas of rats and other rodents. This is the disease, often called the Black Death, that swept through Asia and then Europe in the 14th century.

“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and people if not treated as soon as possible with antibiotics,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, a state health officer with the WDH, said in a statement.

“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.”

Outdoor cats have an increased risk of getting infected since they are more likely to eat infected animals (like a rat or rabbit) and receive bites from plague-infected fleas.

Signs and Diagnosis

The most common sign of plague in cats is fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, and an enlarged lymph node that may be abscessed and draining. Ulcers in the mouth, skin abscesses (pockets of pus and infection), discharge from the eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, and diffuse spreading inflammation of tissues beneath the skin have also been documented.

To diagnose plague, your veterinarian will take samples (such as blood, fluid from the lymph nodes, or a swab from the mouth or throat) for testing and confirmation of the presence of plague-causing bacteria.

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