Cat survives plague

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By Carol A. Clark

“He’s doing fine and is basically all well,” said Veterinarian Dan Dessauer of The Animal Clinic of Los Alamos. “If you catch it early, put the animal in isolation and start a treatment of antibiotics, it’s something that’s not too difficult to cure.”

The cat was a little more than one year old, he said, adding that no one at the animal clinic was infected by the cat.

“Plague bacteria can’t penetrate unbroken skin; it would take a bite or scratch from the animal or a bite from the infected flea,” Dessauer said.

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents that is generally transmitted to humans through bites from infected fleas, said New Mexico Public Health Veterinarian Paul Ettestad during an interview Wednesday afternoon. It also can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals such as rodents, rabbits, squirrels and pets, he said.

The three types of plague are bubonic, the most common and caused by bacteria infecting the lymph system, septicemic in which the bacteria enters the blood stream and pneumonic, which occurs when plague bacteria infect the lungs, causing pneumonia.

Ettestad described pneumonic plague as the more dangerous because an infected animal’s sneezing and coughing can more easily infect humans.

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