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Plague  Lesson 7
 Veterinarian Issues

Domestic Cats

  • Domestic cats are highly susceptible to plague. These animals also are known to have been sources of Y. pestis infection for humans.
  • Transmission from cats to humans:
    • Bites or scratches.
    • Direct contact with infectious exudates.
    • Inhalation of infectious respiratory droplets.
  • Cats that are allowed to roam freely also can become infested with Y. pestis-infected rodent fleas and transport these fleas into home environments.
  • Cat-associated human cases were first verified in the U.S. in 1977. Since that time, 25 human cases have been associated with exposure to Y. pestis - infected cats. Of these, 7 occurred in veterinarians or their assistants, and 5 presented as primary pneumonic plague, which is a particularly dangerous form of the disease that can be transmitted from human to human through coughing and respiratory droplet spread.
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Cat with submandibular bubo recovering from plague.

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Page last reviewed February 12, 2007
Page last modified September 7, 2004

  • Content source: CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch (ERCB), Division of Emergency Operations (DEO), National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
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