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Two people in United Kingdom contract tuberculosis - from their cats

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/28/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Cats maybe contracting disease from badger setts, officials believe

Tuberculosis has roared back into the public consciousness with the spread of a new drug-resistant strain. There are reports from the United Kingdom, now of two people there - who contracted the deadly airborne from their cats.

Public Health England believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was 'very low.'

Public Health England believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was "very low."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/28/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Cats, tuberculosis, United Kingdom


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's the first ever recorded cases of cat-to-human transmission, officials say. According to Public Health England, the PHE, the two human cases are linked to nine cases of the Mycobacterium bovis infection in cats in Berkshire and Hampshire dating last year. Both people are reported to be responding to treatment.

Veterinarians believe that house cats could be catching the disease by venturing into badger setts or from rodents that have been in badger setts. Transmission of the bacteria from infected animals to humans can occur by inhaling or ingesting bacteria shed by the animal. Unprotected cuts while handing the animals may also transmit the disease.

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Public Health England believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was "very low."

It's attributable to the fact that people and the medical community in general has become complacent. "We've all become rather complacent because we haven't been seeing TB for so many years but bovis is back with a little bit more significance," Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, a researcher in feline medicine who has been studying the presence of TB in cats, says. She warns that people have been disregarding warning signs of the disease because there have been relatively few cases in recent years.

"It's important we don't get blinkered and think it's only badgers and cattle that get infected. This is a bacteria that is not very fussy about who it infects."

She also said that she had dealt with cases in which dogs had also passed on Mycobacterium bovis to humans.

Nine cases of Mycobacterium bovis infection in domestic cats in Berkshire and Hampshire were investigated by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and PHE last year. PHE said it had offered TB screening to 39 people identified as having had contact with the nine infected cats.

Twenty-four of the affected people accepted screening. Two were found to have active TB and there were two cases of latent TB, which means they had been exposed to TB at some point but did not have an active infection.

Both people with active TB disease have confirmed infection with Mycobacterium bovis.

"It's important to remember that this was a very unusual cluster of TB in domestic cats," Dr. Dilys Morgan, head of gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic diseases department at PHE, says.

"M. Bovis is still uncommon in cats - it mainly affects livestock animals.

"These are the first documented cases of cat-to-human transmission and so, although PHE has assessed the risk of people catching this infection from infected cats as being very low, we are recommending that household and close contacts of cats with confirmed M. Bovis infection should be assessed and receive public health advice."

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