Bubonic plague isn’t the scourge it was centuries ago, but it’s still around.
Yersinia pestis [yer-SĬN-ē-ah PESS-tiss], the bacteria responsible, is carried in fleas that live mostly on rodents. Animals and people can get infected from flea bites, a bite or scratch from an infected rodent or — in the case of cats — by eating an infected animal.
If our furry friends get infected, they can pass plague on to us in a couple of ways. Draining abscesses can contaminate skin defects and, if plague involves a pet’s lungs, our buddies can discharge droplets by coughing.
Here, plague flares most often in the western and southwestern United States during the late spring and early fall. Cats are hit much harder than dogs, but either can get swollen lymph nodes or become feverish or lethargic.
Plague is one more reason to fight fleas and keep your distance from wildlife.