Another Wyoming cat has been infected with the plague, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) confirmed on Friday. This is the third cat to be diagnosed in the state in six months.
According to WDH, the diagnosis was confirmed through laboratory testing at the University of Wyoming. The third cat is from Kaycee in Johnson County — the other two felines were from Sheridan and Campbell — and was allowed to roam outside. 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, reports PetMD.
Plague symptoms in animals include enlarged lymph glands, swelling in the neck, face or around the ears; fever, chills, lack of energy, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, they should be taken to a vet immediately.
“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, state health officer and state epidemiologist with 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.”
According to the Associated Press, no human plague cases have been reported in connection to infected cats. Wyoming has only reported six cases of humans infected by the plague since 1978. The last case was in 2008.
Harrist added that the disease is rare in humans but can be transferred by a bite from an infected animal or flea.
The WDH recommends those living in area with plague-infected animals take the following precautions:
- 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
Similar to animals, plague symptoms in humans in include swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a medical professional right away.