Cats, dogs, birds and other beloved pets are often considered a part of the family, but many owners are unaware that in extreme circumstances, pets can be a serious health hazard.
An unidentified American man from Missouri has developed a rare and painful infection on the right side of his neck and face that authorities believe originated from his beloved pet cat. The 68-year-old man worked up the courage to visit his doctor two months after the grotesque boils formed and after a series of tests, it was confirmed he was suffering from glandular tularemia.
The confronting photograph, along with information about the man’s symptoms, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the report, the man experienced a week of fever and two months of painful swelling on his face and neck. Authorities noted that two days before his symptoms began to develop, his pet cat, who lived outdoors, passed away from a subacute illness known as feline leukemoa.
During the cat’s illness, the owner treated it with prednisone. Upon examination, health officials noted the three large lumps on the patient’s face and neck were erythematous, tender lymph nodes. In many cases, infection causes the lymph nodes to become enlarged and swollen.
According to Healthline, tularemia is an infection disease that typically impacts wild animals including rodents, birds, rabbits and squirrels. Although rare, humans can become infected by having direct contact with an infected animal. It can also be passed on from ticks, mosquitos and fly bites.
It is believed the man’s cat could have eaten an infected animal, thus becoming infected and passing the disease on to its owner. Thankfully for the man, he was treated for a month and the nasty boils improved within just five days. After three weeks of doxycycline treatment, the health issue was resolved.
It’s not the first time a life-threatening disease has been contracted through pets. Last year, an American man made headlines after it was revealed he nearly suffered a horrible death after contracting the bubonic plague from his pet cat.
According to reports at the time, that man contracted an infection after his cat bit him after refusing to hand over a mouse it had caught. Eventually, the man contracted the plague that slowly took over his body, causing his skin to turn grey and his glands to swell to the size of fruit. His body eventually began to rot and doctors were forced to remove his fingers, the toes on his left foot and another on his right.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an array of different diseases pet owners can contract from their pets. According to The Conversation, the rabies virus – which isn’t currently an issue in Australia – can infect humans if they’re bitten by an affect dog. This virus impacts the brain and causes death to those impacted. Vaccinations are available for dogs and that is often enough to prevent the spread.
Another problem is the skin infection ringworm. Common signs including scaly, flaky and itchy skin, while circular areas of hair loss can appear and it can commonly be transmitted between cats and dogs to humans. Unlike other diseases and viruses, ringworm can be easily treated.
For those with reptiles as pets, as well and cats and dogs, the risk of salmonella is also possible. While it’s more common in reptiles and amphibians, washing hands after handling pets and food is usually recommended.