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Published On: Thu, Mar 27th, 2014

England: Two people contract M. bovis from domestic cat

A domestic cat in England was the source of two human infections with the bovine TB, Mycobacterium bovis, according to health and veterinary officials today.

Image/Jessica Herriman

Image/Jessica Herriman

According to Public Health England (PHE), nine cases of ‘M. bovis’ infection in domestic cats in Berkshire and Hampshire were investigated by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and PHE during 2013. PHE offered TB screening to 39 people identified as having had contact with the infected cats as a precautionary measure. 24 contacts accepted screening. Following further investigations, a total of 2 cases of active TB and 2 cases of latent TB were identified. Latent TB means they had been exposed to TB at some point but they did not have active disease. Both cases of active TB disease have confirmed infection with ‘M. bovis’ and are responding to treatment.

Molecular analysis at AHVLA showed that ‘M. bovis’ isolated from the infected cats and the human cases with active TB infection were indistinguishable, which indicates transmission of the bacterium from an infected cat.

Despite the cases, PHE says  the risk of transmission of ‘M. bovis’ from cats to humans is very low.

Dr Dilys Morgan, head of gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic diseases department at PHE, said:

It’s important to remember that this was a very unusual cluster of TB in domestic cats. ‘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.

Transmission of ‘M. bovis’ from infected animals to humans can occur by inhaling or ingesting bacteria shed by the animal or through contamination of unprotected cuts in the skin while handling infected animals or their carcasses.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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