According to CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) a pit bull infected with plague spread the disease to four people in Colorado. This is the first time such a case was reported in the US.
After investigating a plague outbreak which occurred last year the scientists discovered that four cases of pneumonic plague were related to an infected pit bull. This was a surprising discovery since the disease is not spread through contact with household pets, but through bites from fleas from prairie dogs or carried by rodents.
On June 2014 the two-year-old pit bull displayed symptoms such as fever, drooling, jaw rigidity and neurological problems. One day later the dog was euthanized. Four days after the incident the owner of the dog was hospitalized with bloody cough and fever. He was diagnosed with pneumonic plague and three other persons became sick: a friend of the patient and two people who worked at the veterinarian’s office where the dog was euthanized. The blood samples from the dog and from all the four cases showed that they had Yersinia pestis bacteria in their body, which is what triggered the pneumonic plague.
It seems that in one of the cases the disease was transmitted via human to human contact. This means this is the first time that an individual contacted the plague from another human ever since 1924 when the Los Angeles outbreak took place.
The scientists said that this research taught them some lessons, such as the fact that domestic animals can carry the plague although they are in regions where the disease is endemic in the case of rodents. Another important thing which the researchers drew attention to is the fact that the delayed diagnosis of the first patient was dangerous. The cause of the illness was not identified right, therefore the plague bacteria was discovered was discovered only 10 days after the patient started showing symptoms. The man was hospitalized for 23 days and he had to be intubated in order to be helped to breathe.
One of the authors of the study, John Douglas of Tri-County Health Department, remarked:
“Pneumonic plague is the worst form. It’s the one that you least want to get. You get sick fast and the chances of getting a rocky or even fatal course” are increased.”
He also mentioned that this disease is very rare in the US. Only eight infections are reported in the country every year. In addition, pneumonic plague is even rarer: only 3 to 5 percent of the plague infections are cases of pneumonic plague.
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