Tularemia: Ticks Carry It, But Your Cat Can Give it to You Too

Author: Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham

All that time you’ve spent protecting yourself from tick bites and now you have to protect yourself from your cat?? Well kind of. Tularemia is a rare disease and we don’t talk much about it, but the New England Journal of Medicine is circulating a story that tells us maybe we should.

Recently a 68-year-old man was diagnosed with Tularemia after experiencing a week of fever, two months of a very sore neck, and eventually the formation of lesions on his neck. It was after his diagnosis he told his health care provider that his cat had died just two days before he’d become sick. The vet assumed it was feline leukemia but ran no tests. The man’s doctors feel sure that the cat was his source of the sickness.

What is Tularemia?

Tularemia is caused by a bacterium that is found in small animals, mostly rabbits and rodents. These animals often infect insects such as deer flies and ticks. Humans can contract it in several different ways: the bite of a tick (dog tick, wood tick, lone star tick), ingestion or inhalation, or skin contact with an infected animal.. such as a cat.

A person is most likely to show symptoms within 3-5 days but it’s possible it will take up to 21 according to the CDC. There is a wide range of symptoms and some depend on the manner in which you contract the sickness. Symptoms can include fever and chills, joint and muscle pain, stomach issues, headaches and cough, weakness, pneumonia, swelling of the eyes and lymph nodes, ulcers, and lesions on the skin and mouth. This illness is treatable with antibiotics but can become very dangerous if it goes untreated.

Protecting Your Pets, Protecting Yourself

The man described above had an outdoor cat that most likely had Tularemia due to the bite of a tick. The cat then passed it along to its owner, probably through a scratch or a bite. How to avoid this? Keep your pets tick free. Topical flea and tick treatments or tick collars are an important part of pet care, but Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham would like to suggest you take it a step farther, especially if your animals spend a lot of time outdoors.

Our tick control services rid your yard of 90% of these yucky little creatures! Then you aren’t spending so much time keeping them off your pets as they aren’t around to even worry about. And in this situation, protecting your pets protects you too. Call us today!