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Originally Published by MedicineNet

The first two cases of a diphtheria-like illness being transmitted in the United States between people and their pets have been reported in Utah and Colorado.

The respiratory illnesses occurred in 2022 and 2023 and involved the Corynebacterium ulceran bacterium, which is closely related to the germ that causes diptheria. One recent Japanese study noted that C. ulceran “is widely distributed in the environment and is considered one of the most harmful pathogens to livestock and wildlife.”

Passage between pets and humans is much rarer, however.

The first such case documented in the United States occurred in 2022 in a person in Utah who lived with a spouse, another housemate, three cats, and one dog.

The patient had diabetes and developed a leg wound that would not heal. Lab testing showed that the wound was colonized by C. ulceran, and further tests revealed that the person’s spouse and two of the homes’ three cats also carried the bacterium.

Everyone in the household — pets and humans alike — received antibiotic therapy and the infections gradually cleared.

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infection prevention