They Say His Cat Caused This

Doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St Louis say that his cat caused these nasty symptoms on the side of this unnamed man’s face. Blood tests revealed that he was suffering from glandular tularemia caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium.

Did feline tularemia cause glandular tularemia in this man?

Did feline tularemia cause glandular tularemia in this man?

Apparently the man’s veterinarian said that his cat was suffering from feline leukaemia when in fact his cat had feline tularemia. He may have become infected by this bacterium while administering cancer medication to his cat (due to bites or scratches). Incidentally, the cat died two days before the man’s symptoms first appeared. The cat may have got the disease through eating infected prey.

The 68-year-old man was reluctant to visit his doctor about these nasty boils. It took him two months to see his doctor after they first appeared. The disease can cause fatal pneumonia in about 50% of cases. The red lumps on his face are where lymph nodes are sited.

In retrospect it would have been wise of the man if he had gone to his doctor much earlier. This would have prevented this nasty bacterial infection developing. It’s quite painful too. It makes for a stark picture which is why I’m writing about it!


The cure for glandular tularemia appears to be quite straightforward. The man was treated with doxycycline, an antibiotic, which cured him within four weeks.

Rare disease. Uncertain transmission

However, it should be stressed that it is not clear that he did acquire the disease from his cat. It can be passed to humans in the air. For example, if a farmer drives a tractor over an infected animal it may release the bacteria into the air which can be ingested by the person. In addition, it is an extremely rare disease. It is the first time I have read about it and I have read a lot about zoonotic diseases transmitted from domestic cats.

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


They Say His Cat Caused This — 4 Comments

  1. I was going to send this to you. This is what stuck out to me. Quote”The 68-year-old man was reluctant to visit his doctor about these nasty boils. It took him two months to see his doctor after they first appeared. The disease can cause fatal pneumonia in about 50% of cases. The red lumps on his face are where lymph nodes are sited.”
    He waited two months after his cat died and some doctor ascribed his catching this to his deceased cat with no necropsy or evidence from a supporting veterinarian. Much like toxoplasmosis is assigned to cats there are many ways to contract it. Made for a good cat hate story in the news though.

  2. The article “Francisella tularensis” on Wikipedia states that this bacterial infection was first discovered in ground squirrels, and is found in many classes of vertibrates, including birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. It can also be detected in invertibrates.

    Quote from Wikipedia, “Infection with F. tularensis can occur by several routes. Portals of entry are through blood and the respiratory system. The most common occurs via skin contact, yielding an ulceroglandular form of the disease.[citation needed] Inhalation of bacteria – particularly biovar F. t. tularensis, leads to the potentially lethal pneumonic tularemia. While the pulmonary and ulceroglandular forms of tularemia are more common, other routes of inoculation have been described and include oropharyngeal infection due to consumption of contaminated food and conjunctival infection due to inoculation at the eye.”

    Francisella tularensis as a glandular/skin infection falls under the category known as tularemia, an infectious disease causing symptoms of fever, skin ulcer, enlarged lymph nodes, and more rarely pneumonia. The most typical cause of tularemia is through the bite of infected ticks, deer-flies and mosquitoes. See the broader article “Tularemia” on Wikipedia. The very last paragraph reads, “Cats and dogs can acquire the disease from the bite of a tick or flea that has fed on an infected host, such as a rabbit or rodent. For treatment of infected cats, antibiotics are the preferred treatment, including tetracycline, chloramphenicol or streptomycin. Long treatment courses may be necessary as relapses are common.”

    There is no way that the veterinarian could prove definitively that this man’s cat passed this disease on to him.

    An even sadder fact is that this poor cat might have been cured through one or more courses of antibiotics had the proper diagnosis been made at the outset. Instead the cat was put through highly toxic chemotaxic drug therapy when in fact he did not have cancer. What a reflection on this veterinarian.😠😱😢

  3. Why do you….Note from Admin. Comment deleted because you are in breach of comment rules. You have insulted me. You’ll have to retry using respect and good manners. Then I will publish the comment.

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