The Wyoming Department of Health confirms a cat from Big Horn, Wyoming is infected with the plague. No human cases have been identified in the area. The cat is known to wander outdoors.
According to a state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, the plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and people if not treated quickly with antibiotics.
“The disease can be transmitted to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals. We want people to know of the potential threat in the cat’s home area as well as across the state,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist.
The last human case of the plague was investigated in 2008, with six cases having been exposed since 1978. An average of seven human cases are documented nationwide every year.
WDH recommends the following precautions to help prevent plague infection include:
- 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
Plague 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. Ill animals should be taken to a veterinarian.
Plague symptoms in people can include fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. People who are ill should seek professional medical attention.
More information about plague is available online from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/plague/.