The Savvy VetTech

The Dreaded "Plague"

by Lori Hehn - May 7, 2015 at 5:00 AM

What is Plague?

Plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. You may have recently heard about it in the news, as the first case of a dog to human transmission was reported in Colorado.

Dog Transmits Plague to Its Owner

Yersinia pestis photomicrograph, courtesy of NIAID

How is it Transmitted?

Plague is most common in the Western to Mid-Western states, and is mostly seen where there is a high incidence of infected rodents such as prairie dogs. The bacteria are carried by fleas. When an infected flea bites an animal, the bacterium is transmitted and continues to spread in this manner, by the flea taking meals from infected animals and going on to the next. Dogs or cats running around outside chasing or eating vermin are at a higher risk of getting infected as the disease is transmitted through infected bodily fluids. Cats are very susceptible and are a more common source of infection in humans.

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