Categories: Zoonotic Diseases

Macaulay Culkin cat disease?

Macaulay Culkin. Photo: Kimberly White / Getty Images

People have searched on Google for ‘Macaulay Culkin cat disease?’. This means people are interested in whether Culkin got a disease from a cat or his cat. He is a cat lover and he has a cat. I think he has only one cat as he posted on Twitter on July 12 2019 that he wished he could take his cat to a pet store to check out the toys to make sure his cat liked them! A good idea. Although I can’t be sure how man cats he lives with. I have checked social media and what I believe is his website: bunnyears.com.

However, back to the idea that Culkin got a disease from a cat. The answer is that it is possible but please read the entire page to find out why I say a cat did not give Culkin the disease he refers to.

Thailand visit

He visited Thailand in the middle of 2018 when working on a movie. He was staying in a beach bungalow. A cat visited and he let the cat inside and allowed her to sleep on his bed.

On his return to the US he was fatigued. He slept 20 hours a day. His bowel movements ‘weren’t all that great’. It looks like he had bad diarrhoea.

It is speculated that he had worms, perhaps hookworms or roundworms (gastrointestinal [GI] parasites). The questions are (1) whether he could have got them from the cat who visited him in his Thai bungalow and (2) if so what sort of disease do they cause in humans?

Possible to get worms

The answer is that it is possible for a person to get worms from a cat. In fact some veterinarians take deworming pills to counteract a possible infestation as they are always working in an environment where worms might inadvertently be ingested.

But there is a big barrier to getting worms from a cat. Somehow you have to ingest a worm or worm egg. It sounds gross. It appears that you have to ingest parasite-laden faeces in order to contract worms from an animal. I guess these are faeces with the eggs of worms embedded in them. How is that going to happen? The risk is very small but not zero. Or perhaps you might pick up a worm egg on your fingers from a surface and place your fingers in or near your mouth.

The fact is that, for instance, roundworm eggs are passed in cat faeces and they can stay alive for months or years in soil. There is the potential danger.

As there appears to be quite a clear connection between the cat and Culkin’s GI health issues I have to conclude that it is POSSIBLE BUT UNLIKELY that he got a worm infestation from that cat. There is a BIG BUT through…

Roundworms and hookworms DO NOT cause GI issues

My research tells me that roundworms can cause a disease called visceral larva migrans in humans. It is most often caught from dog worms but cat roundworms can cause it. Children get it from eating dirt. The eggs of the roundworm do not progress to adult worms because humans are not a definitive host. They wander throghout the body causing fever, anemia and other illnesses but not GI problems. Hookworms crawl into people through their skin causing lumps and itching but no diarrhoea. Tapeworm eggs can be ingested when eating a fly! I therefore conclude that the Thai cat did not cause Culkin’s gastrointestinal problems

There may have been other opportunities in Thailand for him to become ill with GI problems. What about eating at a restaurant? I’d suggest that the chances were higher in getting ill in a restaurant or roadside eatery than from the cat he refers to. The point is that there were other opportunities to contract a gastronitestinal disease. Diseases transmissable from animal to human and vice versa are zoonotic.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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