Journal Article

Cases of Cat-Associated Human Plague in the Western US, 1977–1998

Kenneth L. Gage, David T. Dennis, Kathy A. Orloski, Paul Ettestad, Ted L. Brown, Pamela J. Reynolds, W. John Pape, Curtis L. Fritz, Leon G. Carter and John D. Stein

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 30, issue 6, pages 893-900
Published in print June 2000 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online June 2000 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/313804
Cases of Cat-Associated Human Plague in the Western US, 1977–1998

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Exposure to cats infected with Yersinia pestis is a recently recognized risk for human plague in the US. Twenty-three cases of cat-associated human plague (5 of which were fatal) occurred in 8 western states from 1977 through 1998, which represent 7.7% of the total 297 cases reported in that period. Bites, scratches, or other contact with infectious materials while handling infected cats resulted in 17 cases of bubonic plague, 1 case of primary septicemic plague, and 5 cases of primary pneumonic plague. The 5 fatal cases were associated with misdiagnosis or delays in seeking treatment, which resulted in overwhelming infection and various manifestations of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Unlike infections acquired by flea bites, the occurrence of cat-associated human plague did not increase significantly during summer months. Plague epizootics in rodents also were observed less frequently at exposure sites for cases of cat-associated human plague than at exposure sites for other cases. The risk of cat-associated human plague is likely to increase as residential development continues in areas where plague foci exist in the western US. Enhanced awareness is needed for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Journal Article.  6230 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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