NEWS AND COMMENT: Over 100 domestic cats may have been infected with TB after eating raw venison prepared commercially. It seems that the veterinarians’ warning about raw cat food has come true in this story about a product from Natural Instinct, a raw cat food supplier based in Surrey, UK. Research carried out by scientists from Royal School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University and the charity Animal Health Trust showed that a bacterium causing tuberculosis was allegedly in raw venison cat food.
- Three domestic cats infected with bovine tuberculosis through eating raw cat food
- Bovine TB in Cats – a Zoonotic Disease
- UK: bovine tuberculosis infects hundreds of domestic cats
They studied nearly 130 cases of tuberculosis in cats. All the cats in England and Scotland in the study fell ill with skin lesions and breathing problems. They all tested positive for a type of TB called Mycobacterium bovis. This is normally caught from infected cattle but the participating cats lived indoors full-time.
The scientists concluded that it was highly likely that raw cat food was to blame. They said that they “found compelling evidence that it was the cause of infection”. The report is published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. Further, it appears that British cat owners may have caught TB from their pets after they had put their cat on a raw cat food diet. The scientists reported five human cases of TB in cat owners which they may have caught from their cats as TB is a zoonotic disease or through handling raw cat food which was contaminated. A further possibility is that they were suffering from TB in any case and it was only picked up during this study. The disease was found in four pet owners and one veterinarian.
In 2018 a team of Dutch researchers had warned that raw meat diets for pets carried organisms that might pose a risk to human health such as Salmonella, Escerichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes.
Natural Instinct said that they had not sold any raw venison pet product since 2018. They were informed by the Food Standards Agency that a “supplier had not followed EU inspection protocols”. As a consequence the products was comprehensively recalled. Natural Instinct also said that, “The study carried out by the University of Edinburgh, and published earlier this month, found no signs of TB contamination in any of the Natural Instinct food tested and there is therefore no reason to suggest that this is the case”.
Comment: I’m slightly confused because Natural Instinct are saying that there’s no signs of TB contamination while the researchers are saying that there is. As I understand it, the problem may have arisen in the supply chain in 2018 with a supplier not following protocols and that a batch of their product had become contaminated.