Warning: graphic image.
A 68-year-old man from Missouri came out in huge lumps on his neck recently –and doctors think it was caused by an infection he’d caught from his cat.
The man, who remains unnamed, experienced a fever for a week before coming out in painful swellings on the right side of his neck which then grew over a period of two months.
Roughly two days before his symptoms came on, the man’s cat sadly died from an illness diagnosed by a vet as feline leukaemia (although this wasn’t confirmed in a laboratory).
In hospital, the man himself was diagnosed with glandular tularemia, a rare and highly contagious disease which mainly affects rats, birds and domestic animals, but can be transferred to humans.
The case was reported by doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Caused by bacteria called Francisella tularensis, the disease attacks the skin, eyes, lymph nodes and lungs. Symptoms typically include swollen and painful lymph glands, fever, chills, headache and exhaustion.
Glandular tularemia can spread to humans through several routes including insect bites and direct exposure to an infected animal, according to Mayo Clinic. If left untreated, it can prove fatal.
Treatment is usually with antibiotics. In this case, the 68-year-old was prescribed doxycycline for four weeks. Within five days, the lumps reduced in size and within three weeks it had all cleared up.