The efforts of a Netherlands teenager to rescue a kitten didn’t quite yield the results she expected. Instead of bringing in a cute new pet, she contracted a rare virus.
According to BMJ Case Reports, the 17-year-old girl came down with a nasty infection just days after she rescued a kitten. She developed both a fever and an unsightly necrotic ulcer on her wrist. Painful red bumps popped up all along her arm.
After visiting a doctor, the girl was prescribed antibiotics. When the antibiotics proved to be no help, she saw a virologist.
The virologist found that the infection was Cowpox – a viral disease rarely contracted by humans. Cowpox typically spreads seasonally amongst animals in Europe. When a human does contract Cowpox, it’s usually after handling an infected rodent, cat, or livestock animal while an open wound is present on the skin.
Doctors treated the girl for the virus after diagnosing her. Her condition improved significantly within a week and healed completely after two months. She was left with only a scar where the ulcer was.
Cowpox earned its name because humans often used to contract the virus after touching the udders of infected cows. The virus is extremely similar to smallpox, and was the basis for the first smallpox vaccine. Once a person’s immune system clears the cowpox virus, they are immune to smallpox as well.