Showing posts with label bubonic plague. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bubonic plague. Show all posts

Monday 26 February 2024

Mail Online continues to scaremonger about pet cats being a "major harborer of deadly diseases"

NEWS AND OPINION: I'm irritated. The Mail Online has published yet another article also by their deputy health editor in America, Alexa Lardieri, in which she exaggerates either deliberately or carelessly the potential for the domestic cat to carry zoonotic diseases which can be transferred to people. 

In her headline she says that the pet cat is a "major harbourer of deadly diseases". The phrase "major harbourer" is highly misleading. It is irresponsible. It is likely to lead to many cat owners questioning whether they should continue to own a cat. 

The domestic cat is not a major harborer of zoonotic diseases. It does carry some zoonotic diseases but we know they are rarely transferred or are rarely serious otherwise there wouldn't be hundreds of millions of domestic cats around the globe. And relative to humans spreading disease to other humans, the domestic cat is in a minor league. There is no comparison. That's because nearly all diseases affecting cats cannot be transmitted to people.

What she has written in the Mail Online might lead to cats being surrendered to animal shelters where they might be euthanised despite being healthy.

Two more examples of Mail Online's misleading, clickbait articles that harm the cat:
This woman is dangerous for the domestic cat. She is referring to the recent Oregon bubonic plague case - an incredibly rare case - in which it was assessed that a resident was hospitalised with the disease having got it from a cat.

Back in the 1300s in England it was a deadly disease killing many thousands but today it can be cured with antibiotics which weren't available back in the day. It is no longer a deadly disease but Alexa likes to use click bait tactics to get more hits to her newspaper in scaremongering and giving the impression that the domestic cat is wandering around the place spreading deadly diseases to residents.

This is entirely incorrect and as I mentioned, irresponsible. She is also referred to recent 'Alaskapox' death. This is another extremely rare infection which occurs as you can guess in Alaska. It is a viral disease and in this case an elderly man died after contracting it.

The experts say that it appears to be zoonotic and it appears to be circulating across Alaska's mammals with occasional transmission to humans. Notice that it is carried by "mammals" meaning other animals as well as possibly and perhaps rarely the domestic cat.

It's mainly found in small mammals including voles and shrews but sometimes cats as well and over the past nine years seven people in Alaska have been infected by it. It appears that, rarely, a domestic cat contracts the disease when bumping into or preying upon a small mammal that has the disease.

Nearly all of the people who contracted it had mild illnesses which resolved on their own after a few weeks without treatment. The symptoms include bumps or pustules on the skin and joint or muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes.

Let's be sensible, please. It is pretty clear to me that Alexa Lardieri doesn't like cats. She wants cats to be kept indoors all the time and it appears that she has an agenda to promote. Her writing is not neutral or unbiased. To me, she is not a good reporter.

I hope people think about what she's saying, do their own research and find out as I have that she is exaggerating and scaremongering.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 16 August 2021

Can cats spread bubonic plague to people?

The book Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, states: "This disease is of concern because of potential cat-to-human transmission". Although, people should not be too concerned in my opinion because the disease is spread by flea bites (and fleas rarely bite people and the disease is very rare) but it can be transmitted by airborne exposure. I believe that the airborne exposure transmission as a result of it showing up as a septicaemic disease in the bloodstream or pneumonic plague in the lungs, in which case, cats may spread the disease by coughing out infected droplets.

This is a mash-up collage by Michael. The newspaper is from the time of the bubonic plague and the American man with the destroyed hands was bitten by his cat who had swallowed a rat that had eaten a flea that was infected with the plague.
This is a mash-up collage by MikeB. The newspaper is from the time of the bubonic plague and the American man with the destroyed hands was bitten by his cat who had swallowed a rat that had eaten a flea that was infected with the plague.

I'm told that the most common mode of transmission to humans is the bite of an infected flea and cats and dogs can bring the flea to their human companion from plague-infective wildlife such as a rodent. A sick cat can also transmit the bacteria to others through bites or scratches.

Bubonic plague is caused by bacteria called Yersinia pestis. There are 13 cases of bubonic plague in people in the United States annually. The disease may be on the increase. Nearly all cases occur in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Cats can acquire the disease by mouth contact with infected rodents or by the bite of infected fleas. Cats are susceptible to the disease, although thankfully the infection is mild or asymptomatic in around 50% of cases.

Shortly after exposure to the disease cats show signs of illness including: difficulty breathing, coughing, mouth ulcers, dehydration, depression and apathy, loss of appetite and high fever.

Swellings occur in the lymph nodes especially beneath the jaw. They form abscesses containing infective material. A veterinarian will diagnose the disease by a chest x-ray, blood tests to check for antibodies, blood and tissue cultures and gram stains.

My book also tells me that "great care must be taken by all people involved in the care of a plague-infected cat." Strict hygiene and isolation precautions should be in place after professional advice. The cat should be hospitalised. The disease can kill quickly. Treatment should be started before the diagnosis is confirmed. Antibiotics are prescribed but they maybe need to be given four weeks.

Preventative measures include the control of fleas as the most important proactive step. Reducing the roaming and hunting of cats reduces their exposure to plague.

The plague is not found in the UK. It is in the USA and Africa, Asia, South America. When the black death as it was called in the 17th-century hit England in the late 1300s the experts initially believed that cats were spreading the disease. They killed all the cats which made the situation worse because it was the fleas on the rats which was perpetuating the disease.

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