The outbreak occurred between December 2012 and April 2013. The limited details published by Public Health England are that 9 cats from the same location in Berkshire were diagnosed with Mycobacterium bovis infection and have transferred this infection to their owners.
Molecular analysis of the organism from the cats and the humans showed the DNA could not be distinguished and therefore it is likely that for the first time ever reported there has been transmission of tuberculosis between the species. The patients received standard TB treatment; the unfortunate 9 infected cats were euthanased.
cases being diagnosed in the UK in 2012) compared to M. tuberculosis which is relatively common (an estimated 90,000 cases per year in the UK) although 90% of patients are asymptomatic. The clinical features and treatment of
M. bovis are no different from other forms of tuberculosis.
There is a lack of knowledge about the normal flora of pets and their owners. I believe that if a study was conducted into this normal flora we are likely to find that it is a two way street with humans giving as many bacteria to our pets, not just the other way around.
“I talked to my cat about this problem. I told him I might have to cull him. He said I could try but he would still have
eight lives left” (comment left on The Telegraph website).
In truth, the cynic in me thinks that the announcement of the proposed national TB strategy got very little media coverage on the 24th March 2014 so the “My cat gave me TB” story was broken a few days later, even though the outbreak occurred over a year ago. It has done the job though and highlighted TB and zoonotic infections and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
You'll be glad to know that no cats were harmed in the writing of this blog....