First cases documented of TB caught from cats

There was this one time, I went to the U.S., and when I returned there were two Persian furballs in the house.

I vacuumed this morning and reminded Amy, you wanted fluffy cats, right?

jacques.salamader.2.14She laughed as she went out the door.

The New York Times reports the first documented cases of people catching tuberculosis from their cats were revealed in England this week, but TB experts there and in the United States reassured pet owners that they had virtually nothing to fear.

The four human cases were all related to a rare cluster of sick cats in southern England, and all were instances of bovine tuberculosis, which is carried by cows.

Public Health England, which released the report, said the risk to cat owners was “very low.”

The English medical report was a follow-up to a veterinary TB outbreak, in which one veterinarian diagnosed the illness in nine very sick cats from different households within a few miles of one another in or around Newbury, England, from late 2012 to early 2013. Twenty-four people connected to those cats were screened; two had latent TB without symptoms, and two had active infections. DNA testing showed that all four had the same strain as all the cats.

The cats roamed through local woods, the report said, and probably got infected either by eating rodents that had picked up the disease from cows or by fighting with badgers, which also carry it. They may have passed it among themselves through bites.

Bovine TB is more common in England than in the United States, said Dr. Paul P. Calle, chief veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

“This may very well have happened before, in the days before milk was pasteurized and cats were kept in barns for mouse control,” he said. “But for an apartment cat, the risk is nil.”

Although there could be a Salmonella risk from hunting salamanders and skinks, and the little ones enter the townhouse routinely.