'Staggering' disease in cats - cause

In Europe there has been a mysterious staggering disease killing cats. The news has kept a rather low profile so you might not have heard of it. Apparently, it's been known to science for around 50 years but it became a concern in 2020 when it killed a tree kangaroo, donkey and a capybara in Germany. It is linked to encephalitis in a wide range of animals.

Recently the disease has been contracted by domestic cats. The symptoms include loss of ability to retract their claws seizures, loss of control of limbs and tremors. The cats stagger as if they are drunk hence the name of the disease. The disease progresses over about two weeks and there is no cure. Sadly, there is also very little in the way of treatment. The experts aren't sure how long it takes to kill domestic cats because not all of those who get the disease are euthanised.

Very recently, the scientists have discovered what they believe is the cause. They collected the brains of 29 euthanised cats from different places in Germany, Sweden and Austria. The brains were scanned for evidence of Borna virus DNA but none were found. However, they found the rustrela virus in 28 of the brains. This is a relative of the rubella virus which infects humans.

In humans, the virus is highly contagious and can be spread from pregnant women to their unborn babies. Pregnant women who contract the disease can give birth to infants with congenital rubella syndrome suffering from growth retardation, deafness, congenital defects and mental retardation.

The scientists have also suggested that this staggering disease virus may infect humans and an unknown number of other mammals.

I don't know if there are any infected cats in the USA or other areas. My research did not reveal information on that.

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