Plague – United States

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1 case of pneumonic plague detected in Fremont County, Wyoming. The patient caught became infected via contact with sick pet cats.

Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, abdominal pain, bleeding, and swollen lymph nodes.

It is a bacterial infection that can be fatal if not properly treated with antibiotics. Pneumonic plague can be transmitted via contact with sick animals or fleas or person to person contact with someone that is infected.

The Wyoming Department of Health recommends maintaining a sanitary home by using repellent to reduce flea exposure and taking sick pets to the veterinarian.

Photo: Yersinia pestis, Direct Fluorescent Antibody Stain

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Symptoms include fever, weakness and headache. Usually this begins one to seven days after exposure. In the bubonic form there is also swelling of lymph nodes, while in the septicemic form tissues may turn black and die, and in the pneumonic form shortness of breath, cough and chest pain may occur.

Bubonic and septicemic plague are generally spread by flea bites or handling an infected animal. The pneumonic form is generally spread between people through the air via infectious droplets.

Plague has historically occurred in large outbreaks, with the best known being the Black Death in the 14th century which resulted in greater than 50 million dead.

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