London, March 28 IANS | 8 months ago

In a first-ever incident of a feline-human disease transmission, cats have passed tuberculosis (TB) to two people in Britain.

The infection was passed to each of the patients during an unprecedented outbreak of the disease among cats in Newbury, Berkshire.

"These are the first documented cases of cat-to-human transmission," Dilys Morgan of Public Health England was quoted as saying.

Two other cat owners have been infected with a dormant form of bovine TB, said a Daily Mail report.

Nine cats in Hampshire and Berkshire were investigated for TB infection. Experts are unclear how the animals contracted the disease.

In recent years, scientists have warned that cats could spread TB to their owners but these are believed to be the first documented cases in the world.

"It is important to remember that this was a very unusual cluster of TB in domestic cats," Morgan added.

Bovine TB has ravaged the British farming industry, with farms forced to slaughter 30,000 cows with the disease each year.

Badgers are blamed for accelerating its spread.

These short-legged omnivores belong to the family Mustelidae that also includes the otters, polecats, weasels and wolverine.

(Posted on 28-03-2014)

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