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Two People Contract TB from Pet Cat in First Ever Case

28 March 2014

UK - Two people have developed tuberculosis (TB) after contact with a cat, experts have warned - the first ever recorded case of this kind.

Public Health England (PHE) said two people developed tuberculosis after contact with a domestic cat infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

Nine cases of ‘M. bovis’ infection in domestic cats in Berkshire and Hampshire were investigated by 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.

There have been no further cases of TB in cats reported in Berkshire or Hampshire since March 2013. PHE has assessed the risk of transmission of ‘M. bovis’ from cats to humans as being 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."

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Top image via Shutterstock

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