Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | January 14, 2016

Do I Have Plague?

Another email from the patient who did not have tuberculosis (lightly edited):

I did something stupid. Last night I woke up at 2:00 am to my cats hissing. I turn on the light and they have successfully surrounded a sock. So, I pick up the sock nervously expecting a spider or something but there is nothing. So, I put the sock down and an itty bitty mouse runs out of the sock and all the cats leap for it. I grab a shoe box and after about an hour, trap it. My plan was to put it outside. But I then realize this isn’t [Florida (from where the patient had recently moved)] and it is freezing outside. So I sequester the cats in my room, and explain to the mouse he has 60 seconds to beat it to wherever he lives in the house and he should remember how dangerous it is out here and I let him run off. So I guess someone can say at my funeral that [I] wouldn’t hurt a mouse, but my worry is that said funeral will be soon because [I’m afraid] I may get plague now from messing with the mouse.  Are there any symptoms from mouse exposure I should look for?

My response:

Given that plague is spread by fleas on rats, rather than mice per se, no, you do not have to worry about plague. I think you need to be more concerned about your cats taking out their frustration on you for having absconded with their plaything.

Gawd, I love my patients.



  1. See, but here’s the problem: mice have fleas, too. Trust me on this. So the REAL question is, do mice-fleas encounter plague bacteria also?

  2. What about hantavirus? 🙂

  3. I definitely know how your patient felt, but it’s a bad idea, or at least was here in Arizona.

    Ex-catspaw had LOTS of family he helped move in.

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