The single thing which our Minister for Animal Health and Welfare, baby Ben Bradshaw did this year, and on which we congratulated him - never failing to give praise when it is due - was to make tuberculosis notifiable in all mammals.
We have already mentioned in our postings
http://bovinetb.blogspot.com/2004/10/tb-spill-over-cats-out-of-bag.html and http://bovinetb.blogspot.com/2005/02/what-about-cats.html the susceptibility of cats (among many mammals) to bTB. And from a Midlands contributer, comes the sad tale of a ginger tom called errr - 'Ginger'.
Briefly, this puss was a family pet, a neutered male aged three and half, sharing his domicile with another cat, two young children and his owners whose house was on the edge of a development overloking fields. This summer, Ginger began to lose weight and looked ill, so he was taken to the local vet. Initial examinations showed 'a slight wheeziness' (where have we heard that before ?) and antibiotics were prescribed. The cat did not respond and began coughing. Much further investigative work was done on said cat, involving blood tests and X rays finally resulting in his demise a week later on 'welfare' grounds.
Postmortem indicated major lung damage, enlarged lymph nodes, pneumonia and emaciation. Cultures confirmed bTb.
In the immediate local area, no cattle have grazed the fields nearest to the house in which this cat lived for many years. But to the south of the area in 2005 a dead RTA badger tested positive for bTb, and this year, three farms are experiencing what Defra define as 'emerging new cases' in their cattle, involving multiple reactors. As we have said many times, and no doubt will continue to say, it is absolutely no use shooting the messenger - in this case the tested cattle - and leaving the other half (or even threequarters) of the circle, to wander about infecting anything that crosses its miserable path.
The ususal suspects clanked into action within this shocked family's household, with visits from the Communicable diseases section of the local council, TB tests for the children, monitoring of the remaining cat and advice on the symptoms they must look out for in themselves and neighbours and susceptible pets.
The source of this strain (17 spoligotype) of bTb in a domestic, non feral family pet is not linked to infection from either human beings or other local 'pets'. Cattle herds are to be tested within a 3km area. And the badgers, one of which expired locally and tested positive for the same strain of bTb? Sssshhhhhhh ... Defra may not speak its name.