Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Jun;30(6):893-900. Epub 2000 Jun 13.

Cases of cat-associated human plague in the Western US, 1977-1998.

Author information

Bacterial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, CO 80522, USA.


Exposure to cats infected with Yersinia pestis is a recently recognized risk for human plague in the US. Twenty-three cases of cat-associated human plague (5 of which were fatal) occurred in 8 western states from 1977 through 1998, which represent 7.7% of the total 297 cases reported in that period. Bites, scratches, or other contact with infectious materials while handling infected cats resulted in 17 cases of bubonic plague, 1 case of primary septicemic plague, and 5 cases of primary pneumonic plague. The 5 fatal cases were associated with misdiagnosis or delays in seeking treatment, which resulted in overwhelming infection and various manifestations of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Unlike infections acquired by flea bites, the occurrence of cat-associated human plague did not increase significantly during summer months. Plague epizootics in rodents also were observed less frequently at exposure sites for cases of cat-associated human plague than at exposure sites for other cases. The risk of cat-associated human plague is likely to increase as residential development continues in areas where plague foci exist in the western US. Enhanced awareness is needed for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center