Tularemia, which also can be a problem in spring and fall, is zoonotic, so it can be transmitted to people through bodily fluids or bites, said Brad DeBey, associate professor of pathology in K-State's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Cats typically acquire tularemia by eating infected rabbits or from bites by ticks that have ingested blood from an infected rabbit, DeBey said.
"Most cases I know of where it has been transmitted to humans have been through a bite wound," DeBey said. "If a sick cat doesn't feel well and bites someone trying to help it, it can be bad because the cat has the organism in its mouth, which makes it easy to spread."
The K-State lab team diagnoses 20 to 40 cases of tularemia per year, with more than 90 percent of the diagnoses in cats. However, primates have been diagnosed as well, DeBey said. Dogs and sheep also can be susceptible to the disease, although it is rare in those species.
DeBey said most cases he's observed are from eastern Kansas. A recent case was from south-central Nebraska.
"My feeling is that while eastern Kansas does have many positive cases of tularemia, there are probably a lot more cats that die from tularemia because they weren't diagnosed with it," he said.
Clinical signs in cats with tularemia include lethargy, anorexia and fever. It also is possible for a clinically healthy cat to transmit the disease if the organism is present in its mouth, even if the cat hasn’t yet developed symptoms, DeBey said.
The incubation period for tularemia is relatively short. Owners who suspect a pet has the disease should visit a veterinarian immediately. DeBey recommends using gloves to handle the animal.
No vaccines are available for tularemia. DeBey said the best way to prevent cats from contracting the disease is simple: keep them indoors.
"That is the best way, so cats won't be exposed to rabbits and to ticks," he said. "For people who have cats but don't want to keep them indoors, the next best thing is to control ticks. Unfortunately, there's no way to control a cat from hunting rabbits since that's in their nature, but it's the risk you'll have to take with a cat being outdoors.
"Veterinarians need to consider tularemia especially when outdoor cats are ill or dying," DeBey said. "As veterinarians we're a piece of the puzzle when it comes to preventing human disease."
Although far more uncommon, humans can also contract tularemia by mowing the lawn.
"After an outbreak of tularemia on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, it was found that lawn mowing was linked to increased risk of contracting tularemia, leading to the name 'lawnmower tularemia,'" DeBey said. "It is hypothesized that aerosolization of the organism occurs when the lawn mower passes over and contacts a rabbit carcass that is infected with the organism."
Outdoor cats in the Manhattan area also are at risk of contracting cytauxzoonosis, another fatal, tick-transmitted disease with clinical signs similar to tularemia, DeBey said.
Brad DeBey, 785-532-4461, email@example.com
Brad DeBey | Newswise Science News
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences
16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences