Raw food and tuberculosis in cats

25 November 2019 – News

Tuberculosis (TB) in cats is generally linked to an outdoor lifestyle and hunting behavior but some cases in UK are showing that there is more to it than this.

This article describes the clinical cases of 13 pet cats with evidence of Mycobacterium bovis infection (confirmed by PCR or interferon-gama release assay). They were all exclusively indoor cats and fed a commercial raw food diet. They had no contact with wildlife or rodents in the building or exposure to infected humans. They had access to raw milk.

While there are differing views on this topic, veterinarians do agree that the risk of developing infectious diseases increases in pets and owners eating or handling raw meat-based diets. Some studies have shown that Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter species and other microorganisms are present in these diets.

The article recommends cleaning surface utensils and animal food bowls with soap and hot water but the required temperature and conditions to deactivate M.bovis may be hard to achieve in domestic conditions. It is also important to remember that this pathogen can survive for at least 60 days in standing water.

This paper established a mortality rate of 83% among the cats in the study. During the period between the paper’s submission and publication (around 5 months) almost a further 100 cases of TB in domestic cats were reported. Further investigations are underway.

O’Halloran C. et al. Tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis in pet cats associated with feeding a commercial raw food diet. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (2019) 21, 1–15. DOI: 10.1177/1098612X19848455journals.sagepub.com/home/jfm

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