Cats contract bovine TB

9 January 2001

Cats contract bovine TB

By FWi staff

BOVINE TB has now spread to cats in Herefordshire for the first time, reports the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

Experts believe the animals, one a farm cat and the other a pet cat in a rural area, were in contact with cattle.

Alison Johnson, consultant in communicable disease control in Herefordshire, said the danger to humans was slight.

“The risks to humans are very small. If the cats become infected they tend to get abscesses.

“Its very difficult to acquire TB from an abscess; you usually acquire it from breathing it in from an animal or person whos coughing.”

Ms Johnson said these cases were unusual but were not unprecedented.

Vet Francis Anthony said it would be quite worrying if cats and dogs started developing bovine TB.

He said he did not believe they were a major source of the disease.

Nowadays around 40 people develop bovine TB each year – mostly elderly people who have harboured the disease since the 1930s.

But 70 years ago, 40% of the national herd was infected with bovine TB and 2500 people died of the bovine form of the disease each year.

On Wednesday (10 January) the Commons select committee on agriculture publishes its report on bovine TB which is expected to endorse badger cull trials.

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