September 15, 2018

68-year-old man gets a rare bacterial infection from his cat in a strange form on his neck

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An elderly Missouri man was diagnosed with tularemia after his cat dies

The New England Journal of Medicine published a report of a dramatic case of tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever which afflicted a 68-year-old Missouri man.

The authors of the paper Drs. Laura Marks and Andrej Spec reported that the man had sought out medical care over two months after his initial symptoms.

The man had run a fever for a week which then abated, but the right side of his neck started to swell and by the time he finally approached a doctor, the swelling has resolved into three huge and badly inflamed lumps.

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MAN DIAGNOSED WITH RABBIT FEVER

The doctors examined the man and noted the large enflamed lumps on his neck. Subsequent lab reports revealed the presence of a bacteria called Francisella tularensis, or tularemia. 

Doctors believe the man had been infected by the bacteria through his pet cat who had died a short time before the man's symptoms became evident.

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CAT WAS MISDIAGNOSED WITH LEUKEMIA

The man had taken his sick cat to a veterinarian and it had been diagnosed as suffering from feline leukemia.

Feline leukemia is a disease that only affects cats and cannot be transmitted to people and is caused by a virus, not a bacteria.

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CAT PASSED ON HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS BACTERIA

After the diagnosis of Glandular tularemia - the second most common manifestation of the disease -  the was treated with an antibiotic for 4 weeks.

Within a week his neck lesions improved significantly, and in less than a month, he was cured.

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WHAT IS TULAREMIA?

Tularemia is an infectious disease spread by ticks, deer flies, or contact with infected animals.

Symptoms of a Francisella tularensis bacterial infection may vary but include fever, skin ulcers, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Tularemia does not spread directly between people, it requires an animal vector, and is diagnosed by blood tests or cultures of the infected site.

Tularemia is usually treated with the antibiotic streptomycin, but gentamicin, doxycycline, or ciprofloxacin may also be administered successfully.

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Every year an average of  200 cases are reported in the United States and most cases occur in the summer.

Tularemia is named after Tulare County, California, where the disease was first diagnosed in discovered in 1911.

In a related story, a Wisconsin man had to have his four limbs amputated after being infected by a deadly bacteria in his dog's saliva.

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