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A dog in Colorado may have exposed more than 100 people to black plague



  The dog is said to have caught the plague from a dead prairie dog.
Enlarge / It is believed that the dog got the plague from a dead prairie dog.

At least 116 people and 46 Colorado animals were potentially exposed to black plague after veterinarians in 201

7 struggled to diagnose a critically ill dog.

The unusual case prompted health professionals to voice an equally unusual – and potentially surprising – issue warning. This means that dogs in the United States can contract a deadly bacterial infection at any time of year, and the signs may be hard to spot.

[P] Neumonic plague, although rare, should be considered in dogs that do so Fever and respiratory signs with potential exposure to disease-endemic areas, regardless of the season and the prevalence of Lobar [lung] " , concluded the health experts from Colorado. They published details of the case and their warning this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases .

The plague is endemic to areas in the western United States, meaning that it is constantly in circulation. Although it was best known for the catastrophic black-death pandemic of the fourteenth century in Europe, rat-ship ships came to the United States around 1900. Since then, it has spread to quiet rodent populations, hiding quietly among them, including squirrels, wood rats, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, mice, voles, and rabbits. Infected populations tend to emerge in parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of seven cases per year have been documented in recent decades, with a range of 1 to 17 cases.

The bacterium behind the deadly disease is Yersinia pestis which is spread by flea bites and contact with infectious humans and animals. Once it has found its way to the victim, the infection can manifest itself in different ways. The three main routes are bladder types (infection, typically emanating from the skin after a flea bite and spreading into the lymphatic system, causing swollen lymph nodes, called buboes), septicemia (blood infection) and pneumonia (infection in the lungs that spread) can) from person to person via droplets from the air).

In dogs, the plague is rare, but it usually occurs as bumps or sepsis, resulting from a bite of an infected flea. As the authors of the report state, epidemics occur in the United States when fleas are most active, usually between April and October. However, this is not always the case, as the story of the poor puppy in Colorado shows.

Peculiar Pest

In December 2017, a three-year-old mongrel dog appeared in the office of a veterinarian with lethargy and fever. Four days earlier, the dog's dog noticed that the dog was snooping on a dead prairie dog. The veterinarian began antibiotic treatment, but the condition of the dog deteriorated rapidly. The next day, the dog started coughing up blood and the vet referred the case to Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

In spite of the contact with the dead prairie dog, the veterinarians had no disease there at first. Well, it is rare and it was December. Moreover, clinical pictures of the dog's diseased lungs did not fit into the usual pattern of plague infection, which usually affects both lungs. Instead, only part of the lungs were affected, and it looked like the dog inhaled a foreign body, a common doggy problem. To get rid of the suspected source of infection, veterinarians performed a pulmonary lobectomy to remove the severely damaged part of the dog's lungs.

After the lung tissue was removed, veterinarians tried to grow the infection for several days for possible bacteria. However, this led to confusing results, suggesting a bacterium associated with Y. pestis in which the symptoms occurring in the dog do not occur. Next, they turned to PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), a method of picking out specific DNA segments and making copies of them that can be used to identify organisms. By this time, however, the condition of the dog had deteriorated further, and the veterinarians had to lay down the dog.

According to the CDC PCR protocol, search for Y should be performed. Pestis the veterinarians found the deadly bacteria. The veterinarians realized that they had plague on their hands, and found the dog staying in the hospital for days to assess the exposures. Based on employee surveys and the dog's locations, they concluded that at least 116 employees and 46 animals housed with animals were potentially exposed. Vulnerable people talked to their doctors about taking antibiotics as a precautionary measure. All animals housed with animals were given prophylactic antibiotics.

As far as the veterinarians could tell, nobody got sick with the plague. However, they report that the hospital is updating its protocols to better identify the disease and prevent the disease from spreading to staff and patients.

Emerging Infectious Diseases 2018.


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