Pit Bull Infected Humans with the Plague

The largest outbreak of pneumonic plague in the U.S. in close to a century was identified this week and it began with a dog that was sick.

According to the Center for Disease Control, which announced the results of its investigation into a small but alarming outbreak of plague in a rural area of Colorado in 2014, four cases of the form of plague, one that affects the lungs and does not cause boils, were determined to have originated with a pit bull that was infected, which is the first in the U.S.

Typically, this disease is spread through bites from fleas that prairie dogs carry as well as other rodents, but not from contact with pets in the household.

Not just the source of the disease was unusual about the outbreak, the CDC found that one case might have resulted from transmission that was human to human, something that has not taken place in the U.S. since 1924.

The disease today is nothing compared to the Middle Ages. The report by the CDC says there is usually only an average of 8 cases each year in the U.S. Modern medicine means most often they are not fatal cases. All of the people infected in this outbreak received antibiotics and recovered, expect for the dog.

Still the plague is unpleasant and scary. This is the largest such outbreak over the past 90 years in the U.S. Understanding how the disease came bout can help healthcare workers cope in the future.

It began when a pit bull contracted a fever in June of 2014. The dog’s jaw became rigid and drool dripped from the side of its mouth. It also started to cough up mucus with blood in it.

After a one-night stay at the vet, the dog was put down. However, a couple of days later, the dog’s owner started to feel sick. He had a fever as well and started to cough up blood. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but did not respond to treatment.

He was transferred to another hospital and tests confirm pneumonic plague.

Three other people amongst 100 who were interviewed had similar symptoms, and all are now reported to be fully recovered.

 

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