Cats, TB and You

Last week, we talked about how cats rule the internet. Just taking glimpse at YouTube, popular blogging sites like Tumblr and the over 6,500 results of “cat sweaters” on Amazon will prove that cats are simply everywhere.

And that also includes in England, where the first documented cases of humans catching tuberculosis (TB) from cats have been documented. The cats  — which reportedly were infected by  eating rodents infected with the disease, biting one another or even fighting badgers — caused four human cases in England this week.  All instances were of bovine TB, carried by cows.

However, experts there and in the United States both agree that pet owners have nothing to fear.

Bovine TB is more common in England — in the US, the strain accounts for less than one percent of all TB. The most common way to get the particular strain is through unpasteurized milk, which is illegal in many states (and legal, but heavily restricted in others). Interstate selling of raw milk is illegal.

Person-to-person transmission of TB is the only thing we need to worry about.

“This may very well have happened before, in the days before milk was pasteurized and cats were (exclusively) kept in barns for mouse control,” Dr. Paul P. Calle, chief veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservatory at the Bronx Zoo said. “For an apartment cat, the risk is nil.”

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