Plague confirmed in Los Alamos cat

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By Carol A. Clark

The New Mexico Department of Health’s Scientific Laboratory confirmed plague in a cat from Los Alamos Tuesday.

“The owner said the cat wasn’t feeling well, it was lethargic and dehydrated,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Paul Ettestad Wednesday afternoon.

“The cat didn’t have swollen lymph nodes and it didn’t have pneumonia but it had a high fever and the vet sent in a blood sample.”

Ettestad said that when there is a suspicion of plague, what they look for is a four-fold rise in plague antibodies.

The initial sample showed the existence of the antibodies so they followed standard procedure, which is to wait two weeks and draw a second sample. That sample was received Tuesday and did show four times the plague antibodies as the initial sample.

The owner was advised to take precautions after bringing the sick cat into the vets. She also was put on a fever watch, Ettestad said, adding that she is fine and no people were exposed to the cat at the vet clinic.

Veterinarian Dan Dessauer of the Animal Clinic of Los Alamos

Los Alamos County Emergency Management Coordinator Philmont Taylor explained that plague is a naturally occurring phenomenon throughout the state.

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