Man had BOILS on his neck after catching an infection from his CAT

Man, 68, sprouted giant boils on his neck after catching a deadly infection from his dying CAT 

Man, 68, sprouted giant life-threatening boils on his neck after catching a deadly infection from his dying CAT

  • Unnamed man went to his GP after battling painful swellings for two months
  • Blood tests revealed he was suffering from the rare condition tularemia
  • Untreated, this can cause life-threatening pneumonia in up to 60% of cases
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A man developed mysterious boils on his neck after catching a life-threatening infection from his cat.

The unnamed 68-year-old, from Missouri, went to his GP after enduring painful red swellings on the right side of his neck for two months.

Blood tests revealed he was battling the rare condition tularemia, which can cause deadly pneumonia in up to 60 per cent of cases. The man is thought to have caught the disease from his cat, who died two days before he started feeling unwell.

Tularemia is rare but can affect both humans and animals if they eat undercooked meat from an infected animal, usually rabbits. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected pet can also spread the condition. 

After being treated with antibiotics for a month, the patient made a full recovery. 

A man developed mysterious boils on his neck after catching a deadly infection from his cat


Tularemia is a life-threatening infection that can affect both humans and animals, particularly rabbits and rodents.

Humans can become infected via tick bites, skin contact with an infected animal or eating the undercooked meat of an infected animal.

Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection.

In most cases a skin ulcer occurs at the site where the bacteria, known as Francisella tularensis, entered the body. This is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes.

If the bacteria enters via the eye, it can become irritated and inflamed, with lymph nodes swelling in front of the ear.

If a person becomes unwell from eating or drinking contaminated food or water, they may have a sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis and swelling of the lymph nodes in their necks.

The most serious form of the condition is pneumonic. 

This can occur if someone breathes in dust containing the bacteria or if other forms of the disease are left untreated and the pathogen spreads to their lungs. 

Pneumonic tularemia causes cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Although dangerous, most cases can be treated with antibiotics.

People can reduce their risk of infection by using insect repellent and wearing gloves when handling sick or dead animals. 

Source: CDC 

Although the man had been battling painful swellings that were gradually getting worse for two months, he only went to his GP after spending one week with a fever. 

After being transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, the man was told his red, painful swellings where actually enlarged lymph nodes.

Blood tests revealed he was infected with the bacteria Francisella tularensis but was otherwise healthy, according to the case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

He was diagnosed with glandular tularemia, which occurs when a person’s lymph nodes swell at the site the bacteria enters their body. 

It is the second most common form of illness from an Francisella tularensis infection, with the most common causing the same symptoms but with ulceration.

When the man was asked if anything unusual had happened in the lead up to his illness, he told doctors his cat had died from ‘feline leukemia’ days before.

Yet this cancer diagnosis was made by a vet without any lab tests being carried out to confirm it. 

The man is therefore thought to have caught Francisella tularensis from his cat while giving his pet the cancer drug prednisone.

He was treated with the antibiotic doxycycline for four weeks.

His lesions began to improve within five days and disappeared after three weeks.

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