A CAT owner caught a life-threatening disease from cuddling his feline friend, a report has revealed.
The man, who hasn't been named, was left with massive bulges on his neck and face after the sick moggy infected him with a rare disease.
The 68-year-old had gone to his doctor after suffering from a fever for a week – followed by two months of swelling on the right side of his neck.
Medics then diagnosed him with a rare illness glandular tularemia – caused by bacteria Francisella tularensis – after he revealed his beloved cat had died from feline leukemia.
They believe the puss must have been suffering from the disease when the owner was treating it with medication, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.
The condition – also know as rabbit fever – causes fever, skin ulcer, and enlarged lymph nodes and is spread by ticks, deer flies, or contact with infected animals.
Francisella tularensis and 'rabbit fever'
Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever is an infectious disease caused by toxic bacterium Francisella tularensis.
The bacterium is usually spread by ticks, deer flies, or contact with infected animals.
Symptoms include fever, skin ulcer, and enlarged lymph nodes but suffers can sometimes be struck down with pneumonia or a throat infection.
The disease is rare in humans and can be treated with antibiotics.
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He was given antibiotics for four weeks and the lumps completely healed after three weeks.
The report said: "Domestic cats can become infected through the consumption of infected prey and can transmit the bacteria to humans.
"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 disease is rare in humans – affecting around 100 to 200 cases a year in the US, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports.