Two people have developed tuberculosis (TB) after coming into contact with a domestic cat, in the first ever recorded cases of cat-to-human transmission, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
The cat was infected with the Mycobacterium bovis (M.bovis) bacteria, which causes bovine TB in cattle and other animals.
TB Alert’s Chief Executive Mike Mandelbaum, says people should not panic. “In the UK we are a nation of cat lovers, so this may prove quite shocking for people who may now look at their pets in a different light.
“These are the first cases of cats transmitting TB to humans, and people really should not worry. But the symptoms of TB, whether from a cat or from human transmission, are the same, so people should be aware of these symptoms. The important thing with any TB – whether caught from a cat or a human – is to get it treated asap, to prevent long term damage to your health and to prevent you passing it on to other people.
“Although I would stress that the risk of catching TB from a cat is likely to remain very low, this is a stark reminder that TB is still a problem in the UK today, with almost 9,000 people developing it last year.
“The best way to control the spread of this curable illness is for it to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.”