Can cats and dogs be infected with bovine TB?
Only a small number of M. bovis infections in pets, mostly cats, are recorded and M. bovis infection is rarely recorded in dogs. Of the 8 million cats living in the UK, less than 30 each year are confirmed as infected with M. bovis. However there was a cluster of bovine TB-infected cats in Berkshire which all had the same strain of bovine TB as predominates in local cattle. Four human cases of TB have also been found through screening as a result of this cluster. Two of these have been confirmed as caused by the identical strain of bacteria as found in the cats. This has led to the conclusion, for the first time, that infection in humans was caused by the cats.
Whilst the risk of spread from pets to either cattle or humans is judged to be very low, it is important to be aware of the potential, and to remember that any case of bovine tuberculosis, in any species, must be notified to DAERA. If DAERA is notified of a case, it will inform local health authorities and may also take action on disease control in any cattle herds that it considers may have been associated with the spread of infection. Veterinary treatment of infected pets is strongly discouraged due to the infectious nature of the disease to both humans and animals - in any case, treatment is not permitted unless under licence from DAERA.
Veterinary Service has produced an advice leaflet on the subject for pet owners called Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in domestic pets - what this means for you.
Who should veterinary practitioners contact for advice about TB in domestic pets?
For advice about TB in domestic animals veterinary practitioners should contact their local Divisional Veterinary Office. A list of the addresses and opening hours of the offices is available at the link below, or alternatively telephone 0300 200 7840.