A Missouri man caught a life-threatening disease from a furry friend that left him with humongous bulges on his face and neck, according to a new report.
The horrifying case published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month detailed how a sick cat infected its owner with a rare illness called Francisella tularensis, a toxic bacterium.
Physicians said the unidentified 68-year-old patient went to visit his doctor after suffering from a week-long fever, which then was followed by two months of swelling on the right side of his neck.
He reportedly told the physician that his cat died from what a veterinarian diagnosed as feline leukemia about two days before he fell sick.
Physicians, however, now suspect that the cat was also infected with Francisella tularensis. They believe the disease may have been transmitted when the man tried to help treat his cat.
“Now, as anyone who has had to give a cat medication can imagine, this process undoubtedly involved close contact and maybe even a few bites and scratches – a perfect opportunity for F. tularensis to jump from cat to human,” the report said.
The man tested positive for the glandular tularemia and was given antibiotics for four weeks.
Experts said the infection is rare in humans — with about 100 to 200 cases in the U.S. every year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.