We understand that Cornwall has now had 23 cats with confirmed TB.
Bovine tb becomes notifiable in 'all mammalian species' in the near future
Extract from http://www.vet-wildlifemanagement.org.uk/pdf/johngallt_b_review9-04.pdf
Tuberculosis in badgers; a review of the disease and its significance for other animalsJ.Gallagher and R.S. Clifton-Hadley Truckle Park, Lustleigh, Devon TQ13 9TF. and Central Veterinary Laboratory, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB
"....... Bovine tuberculosis in cats used to be fairly common in Britain and Jennings (1949) reported infection in 13% of cats in a study at Liverpool. Raw milk was the usual source of their infections. Where severe outbreaks of tuberculosis were seen in herds of cattle in Pennsylvania in the United States during 1966-1968, four of nine dogs and 24 of 52 cats living on the farms were found to have tuberculosis (Snider et al., 1971). These authors considered that after slaughter of the cattle on these farms had been completed, these animals were maintaining infection and posing a risk of reestablishing it in the herds.
Cases of tuberculosis in cats in Britain have recently been reviewed by Gunn-Moore et al. (1996). Of 19 cases they investigated all were infected with an organism showing features intermediate between M.tuberculosis and M.bovis which is possibly M.microti. Orr et al. (1980) encountered 2 cases of cats infected with “ a low pathogenicity” strain of M.bovis with rather speculative contact with badgers. But more recently an outbreak in cattle in north Cornwall has been associated with infected cats (Durr et al., in preparation). Four of 6 semi wild farm cats examined post mortem showed lesions of tuberculous pneumonia from which M.bovis was recovered. Shortly after the index case of this extensive outbreak, one of the reactor cows was found to have udder tuberculosis. Raw milk had been liberally fed to the cats and appeared to have established infection amongst them for over a year. The cats lived in the calf shed clearing up left over milk from the calf buckets and subsequently a high proportion of the calves developed tuberculosis. Checks of a wide range of wildlife species using this farm, including badgers, were carried out with negative results and the original source of infection remained undetermined. Subsequently, Monies et al. (2000) confirmed tuberculosis in 4 of 12 cats on a premises in Cornwall where 3 months previously an emaciated tuberculous badger had been found. The badger was thought to have passed infection to the cats by contaminating the cats feed bowls outside the house when eating left over food scraps...."
There is a recent post on the bovine TB blog entitled 'The Cat's out of the Bag' , where Robert Monies' work published in Vet. Record April 2000 is also quoted.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Tb Spill Over - The Cat's out of the Bag
In an answer to a Parliamentary Question concerning bovine tb in deer, Mr. Bradshaw - or whoever answered those 538 questions - replied that "they were considered a spill over" and not a primary host. Now if badgers can 'spill' tb over into cattle and deer, what else is at risk?
Amongst other things, cats.
At first it was thought that only Siamese and Burmese were 'at risk', but then the penny dropped. The owners of anything less valuable would bury the evidence rather than pay VLA the considerable sums needed to postmortem one very dead moggy.
But cats are susceptible. Postmortems have been done and results logged, from which we quote below.
Breakdowns on farm cats were well documented in USA in 1972, and also in New Zealand, but our story is one which involves badgers as a primary host, several dead cats and no cattle.
In March 1998, a dead badger found on a smallholding was submitted to VLA for postmortem.
It was described as 'generally emaciated', and subsequent post mortem revealed both lung and kidney lesions which were submitted for culture. (We're repeatedly told that badgers don't suffer when they have Tb. This one did, to starve to death in a garden.)
Three months later the carcass of an adult cat from the same smallholding was also submitted for postmortem, and the owner was worried because over the past month 4 other cats on her holding had died.
VLA did an exhumation of the 4 buried cats, and postmortemed the lot.
We won't go into the details but, the report describes: " Respiratory distress, weight loss, swelling on the neck glands which proved to be necrotic and oedematous. The lungs were filling with 'grape like lesions' , and the kidneys were affected too. One of the exhumed cats had a cervical swelling which was discharging thick yellow pus, another had had respiratory difficulties prior to death. All showed lung and/or kidney damage".
(But they 'didn't suffer'. Remember that little gem.)
Pooled tissue from the badger and each of 4 cats (the 5th carcass was too badly decomposed to use) was collected separately and tested for mycobacterium bovis. It was also spoligotyped for identification of the strain responsible.
All samples proved to be the same strain - GB spoligotype 20.
The smallholding on which the dead badger was found, and on which the cats died had been home to only horses and ponies for 10 years. There were no cattle. But the area had seen a significant increase in m-bovis infected badgers over the past few years, and the holding is in the centre of a square where recently 22 out of 119 badgers were confirmed with tb. Of those, a third had extensive infection including two individuals who were considered to have died from tb - including the one on the smallholding.
The author of the report, which was published in the Veterinary Record (April 2000 ) concluded :
"M bovis infection in cats, may pose a real zoonotic threat to their keepers".
We agree. As the countryside is plastered with more and more bacteria from an maintenance host who has acquired 'cult status', everything that is susceptible is also at risk. Cattle are only found because we test them. Other species at risk from Bradshaw's quaintly described 'spill over' are deer, camelids, cats and of course, human beings.
So why is mycbacterium bovis being allowed to thrive in the badger? £1 million received (with thanks) from the Political Animal Lobby for a start.