A woman has fallen ill with the pneumonic plague after it’s believed she caught it from one of her cats.
The woman, a resident of Fremont County, in the US state of Wyoming, is being treated with antibiotics as the state’s health department warns people the bacterial infection can be deadly.
“This disease can be transmitted to humans from sick animals or by fleas coming from infected animals; in this case, the person had contact with sick pet cats,” the department said in a statement.
Symptoms of pneumonic plague include “fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous”, according to the Australian Government’s Health Department.
Wyoming’s health department said the pneumonic plague “is the most serious form [of plague] and is the only form that can be spread from person to person”.
Dr Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist, said “it's safe” to assume the plague exists across Wyoming. It is believed to be the seventh case acquired in the state since 1978.
“While the disease is rare in humans, it is important for people to take precautions to reduce exposure and to seek prompt medical care if symptoms consistent with plague develop,” Dr Harrist said.
The department said it is contacting people it believes to be at risk of contracting the infection.
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