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Teenager catches TB from pet kitten

A teenager developed pneumonia and was rushed to hospital for treatment for severe lung damage after she contracted tuberculosis from her pet kitten.

Jessica Livings, 19, had to have emergency surgery after she caught TB, what health officials say is among the first cases in the world of humans picking up the disease from cats.

Ms Livings' mother Claire also contracted a dormant form of the disease, the Daily Mail said.

It is thought the pair contracted TB when they were cleaning a wound on their pet, Onyx, which they had adopted only weeks before.

Ms Livings told the newspaper: "I lost a stone and a half in five weeks, I was very ill and had fevers, cold sweats and hallucinations. I didn't realise what was real and what wasn't."

She was reportedly diagnosed with the disease in October after a vet voiced concerns over an outbreak of TB among cats in the the Newbury area of Berkshire.

Ms Livings was readmitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital last month, but is now classed as being at no risk of passing TB on.

Her mother told the Mail that their kitten became ill and they discovered he had an open wound on his belly. Despite taking him to the vet he died, but they had no idea it was TB.

Vet Carl Gorman, who reported the outbreak, told the Mail he believed it started with a local herd of cows contracting bovine TB.

Public Health England (PHE) this week said that two people in England have developed TB from a cat in the first ever recorded cases of cat-to-human transmission.

PHE has offered precautionary screening to 39 people who may have been in contact with cats infected with the Mycobacterium bovis (M bovis) bacterium, which causes TB in cattle (bovine TB) and in other species.

Of these, 24 people accepted screening. Two were found to have active TB and there were two cases of latent TB, which means they had been exposed to TB at some point but did not have an active infection.

Both people with active TB disease have confirmed infection with M bovis and are responding to treatment.

PHE said there there have been no further cases of TB in cats reported in Berkshire or Hampshire since March 2013 and said it believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was "very low".

Dr Dilys Morgan from PHE said: "It's important to remember that this was a very unusual cluster of TB in domestic cats. M bovis is still uncommon in cats - it mainly affects livestock animals.

"These are the first documented cases of cat-to-human transmission, and so although PHE has assessed the risk of people catching this infection from infected cats as being very low, we are recommending that household and close contacts of cats with confirmed 'M bovis' infection should be assessed and receive public health advice."

It also emerged that a child under 10 may have been infected with TB by a dog.

The youngster, from Gloucestershire, developed a latent form of the disease last year after the family pet fell ill.

The victim managed to make a full recovery but v ets were forced to destroy the dog after screening the family last year.

If confirmed it would be the first ever case of its kind in the UK, Public Health England (PHE) said.

But a spokesman claimed it was "scientifically impossible" to prove whether the dormant form of TB contracted by the child had come from the dog or another source.

The spokesman said: "A family in Gloucestershire were tested for tuberculosis (TB) last year after their pet dog was confirmed with the bovine form of the infection.

"Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) is a bacterium that causes bovine TB in cattle and although the organism can infect and cause TB in humans, the risk of infection for the general public is very low.

"Human TB caused by M. bovis accounts for less than 1% of the total TB cases in the UK and it is usually those who work closely with livestock and/or regularly drink unpasteurised (raw) milk who have a higher risk of catching the infection.

"The family is known to have connections to a veterinary practice and this was investigated as a potential source of infection.

"PHE offered TB screening to the family as a precautionary measure. Three family members were negative and one case of latent TB was identified.

"Latent TB means they had been exposed to TB at some point but they did not have active disease. The family member with latent TB completed a three month course of treatment.

"This case differs from that of human TB infection from cats because there two people involved developed active TB and cat to human transmission was confirmed.

"In this case, because the person did not develop active TB, it's impossible to say if they had been exposed to TB by the dog, or some other source."


From Belfast Telegraph