A recently published medical report revealed that a man contracted a life-threatening disease from his cat, which left him with huge boils on the face.

The unnamed 68-year-old man from Missouri had visited a doctor after suffering from a fever for a week, followed by two months of painful swelling on the right side of his neck.

After undergoing blood tests, he was diagnosed with a rare disease called glandular tularemia. It is caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium and can lead to fatal pneumonia in more than half of cases. Doctors believe he contracted the disease from his feline friend who died just two days before his symptoms appeared. 

According to the report, the pet dog died after a vet misdiagnosed it with feline leukemia without lab testing. It is, however, believed the cat must have been suffering from glandular tularemia.

The lumps on the man’s neck were actually the man’s enlarged lymph nodes, which swelled up as the bacterium entered his body. The lumps completely healed after a four-week antibiotic dose.

"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 report stated.

The disease, also known as rabbit fever, affects around 100 to 200 people a year in the United States, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported. The condition causes fever, skin ulcer, and enlarged lymph nodes and is spread through several routes, including insect bites and direct exposure to an infected animal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition can be difficult to diagnose and the symptoms can be mistaken for other, more common, illnesses. The symptoms may vary depending on how the bacteria enter the body and it can range from mild to life-threatening. CDC noted that the “treatment usually lasts 10 to 21 days depending on the stage of illness and the medication used. Though symptoms may last for several weeks, most patients completely recover.”

Since the disease is contracted through animals, people who work outdoors or go for camping and hiking are required to use insect repellents, wear covered clothes and avoid drinking untreated surface water as a precautionary measure. People who hunt or trap animals should use gloves when handling animals, especially rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs, and other rodents and cook game meat thoroughly before eating.