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Mycobacterium bovis infection in cats
  1. Nigel Gibbens
  1. Chief Veterinary Officer, Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
  1. e-mail: nigel.gibbens{at}

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BETWEEN December 2012 and March 2013, a veterinary practice in Newbury (west Berkshire) diagnosed nine cases of Mycobacterium bovis infection in domestic cats. In seven of those cases the diagnosis was confirmed by bacteriological culture. The nine affected cats belonged to different households and six of them resided within a 250 metre radius. The animals presented with mycobacterial disease of variable severity including anorexia, non-healing or discharging infected wounds, evidence of pneumonia and different degrees of lymphadenopathy. The latest information is that six of the cats have been euthanased or have died. The three surviving animals are undergoing treatment and are reported to be responding. At the time of writing, no new cases had been detected in local cats since March 2013.

The emergence of this cluster of feline M bovis infections prompted a thorough epidemiological investigation by the local office of the AHVLA. This was supported by the bovine tuberculosis (TB) reference laboratory in AHVLA – Weybridge, which carried out the genotyping of the M bovis isolates from the seven confirmed cases. As with all culture-confirmed incidents of M bovis infection in animals, the AHVLA notified the local health protection team of Public Health England (PHE), which in turn offered tuberculosis (TB) screening to all household members and others who had close contact with the infected cats. A brief account of the investigation is summarised on p 326 of in this week's issue of Veterinary Record (Roberts and others 2014).

There is no statutory surveillance programme in Great Britain for TB in animals other than bovids. Even so, the AHVLA has for many years been …

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