We’d like to thank Dr. Donald G. McNeil, Jr., for stating several times in his article that cat owners have virtually nothing to fear when it comes to contracting TB from their cats.
There are two types of TB: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (human tuberculosis bacteria) and Mycobacterium bovis (cattle tuberculosis bacteria). Cats are resistant to M. tuberculosis – meaning they can’t catch it, and therefore can’t transmit it to humans. Cats are usually infected by M. bovis by ingesting infected animal products, usually infected milk. TB in cats affects the gastrointestinal tract. It is very rare for cats to pass TB along to humans. As Dr. McNeil stated, the TB cases in England were all related to a single cluster of sick cats infected with M. bovis.
However, he also goes on to mention cat scratch fever and toxoplasmosis, two diseases concerning cat owners.
Toxoplasma gondii is an intestinal parasite that is a human health concern primarily for pregnant women. The main source of contamination in humans is eating or handling undercooked or raw meat. However, an infected cat may pass the oocyst of toxoplasma in feces. If the litter box is scooped frequently, and if pregnant women avoid handling cat feces from domestic or feral cats, this will lessen the risk from cats. Additionally, up to one third of the world's human population is estimated to carry Toxoplasma. The parasite rarely causes symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, those at risk are people with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS, or pregnant women who can pass along the parasite to their unborn child.
This causes lymph node enlargement, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and headaches. Although most patients do not become seriously ill and recover without complications, anyone who has been scratched should immediately wash the wound immediately with soap and hot water then clean with Iodine, alcohol, or peroxide. Clean the wound three times a day, rinse with running water to remove dirt and bacteria, wipe with hydrogen peroxide, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover the wound with a bandage.
With proper litterbox practices and immediate care of any wounds, Toxoplasmosis and cat scratch fever are easily preventable and shouldn’t be concerns for cat owners.