A plague-infected dog spread the dangerous disease to four Colorado residents, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Health officials told ABC News that this the first report of a dog infecting a human with the plague in the U.S.
The dog became sick last summer with a fever and jaw rigidity, among other symptoms. The dog's health declined so quickly that it was euthanized the following day at a local vet's office, health officials said.
Four days later, the dog's owner entered the hospital with a fever and a bloody cough that became worse over the next few hours, but an initial blood culture was misidentified, according to the CDC report.
As the patient's symptoms grew worse, the test was redone and he was found to have been infected with pneumonic plague, according to the CDC report. The remains of the dog were also tested and were found to be positive for the plague bacteria.
"Frankly one of the biggest surprises of this outbreak is the source," said John Douglas, of Tri-County Health Department in Colorado and one of the study authors. "Primarily ... dogs don’t get sick at all or they get a minor illness," after being infected with the plague.
Janine Runfola, of the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado and lead author of the report, explained that cats are more likely to infect humans with the disease than dogs because they exhibit more symptoms.
"For pneumonic plague a more likely scenario would be you have a cat [play] with prairie dogs and infected fleas get on the cat," Runfola said. "The cat gets sick and sneezes and coughs on its owner."
|Yersinia pestis seen at 200× magnification with a fluorescent label. This bacterium, carried and spread by fleas, is the cause of the various forms of the disease plague.|
The epidemiological use of the term "plague" is currently applied to bacterial infections that cause buboes, although historically the medical use of the term "plague" has been applied to pandemic infections in general. Plague is often synonymous with "bubonic plague", but this describes just one of its manifestations. Other names have been used to describe this disease, such as "The Black Plague" and "The Black Death"; the latter is now used primarily by scholars to describe the second, and most devastating, pandemic of the disease.
The etymology of the word "plague" is believed to come from the Latin word plāga ("blow, wound") and plangere (“to strike, or to strike down”), cf. German Plage(“infestation”).
Epidemiology and distribution
Infection and transmission
Transmission of Y. pestis to an uninfected individual is possible by any of the following means.
- droplet contact – coughing or sneezing on another person
- direct physical contact – touching an infected person, including sexual contact
- indirect contact – usually by touching soil contamination or a contaminated surface
- airborne transmission – if the microorganism can remain in the air for long periods
- fecal-oral transmission – usually from contaminated food or water sources
- vector borne transmission – carried by insects or other animals.
Yersinia pestis circulates in animal reservoirs, particularly in rodents, in the natural foci of infection found on all continents except Australia.
Dog Infects Humans With Plague for First Time in US - ABC News:
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