Showing posts with label zoonosis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zoonosis. Show all posts

Sunday 5 May 2024

Avian flu puts cow cuddling under threat

In America, a lot of small farmers rely on selling their cow cuddling services to the public to pay for the running of their farms such as purchasing bales of hay. It seems to me that to these small farm holders cow cuddling is a nice source of added income which supplements their regular income. That's the benefit from the farmer's point of view. 

Of course, there is a benefit from the customer's point of view because cow cuddling is known to be very therapeutic. There are other long-term gains such as understanding that cows are sentient beings. I can remember very clearly a video of a farmer in Europe had a great relationship with his farm animals including his cows. 

These relationships are very similar to those that one finds between companion dogs or cats and their caregivers. Cows are great animals although we treat them as livestock be used for the benefit of humankind.

We don't know for sure how people can contract avian influenza from cows but a person exposed to infected cattle on a farm in Texas tested positive for H5N1. They were the second documented case of human infection of the virus in the United States.

Although we don't know specifically how people are infected it is due to close contact with infected animals. Perhaps, and I'm guessing here, saliva is passed from cow to person and the saliva contains the virus. Most people who have fallen ill with H5N1 have had close contact with infected animals typically poultry.

The best of my knowledge, a person who contracted H5N1 was not seriously ill. The individual referred to above was treated for a single symptom of eye redness and they received antiviral medication. There was a case in the UK. The man contracted the disease from ducks. He was successfully treated.

In America, the CDC considered the risk of H5N1 being transferred to people as low but precautions are necessary. Milk from infected cows needs to be discarded although pasteurisation of milk kills the virus. Barn cats caught the disease from drinking infected milk on a Texas farm. It killed 12 of 24 cats in days.

Avian flu killed 12 Texas farm cats in four days after getting the disease from cattle

Perhaps the big problem for the cow cuddling businesses is that customers will no longer want to cuddle cows knowing that there is a potential risk of contracting this disease. This is the problem rather than the farms having to stop selling the service. Although they will probably do it voluntarily as they'd be exposed not only to the virus but to a claim for compensation through the courts! 😒🤢

In summary, while the risk of transmission from cows to humans remains low, health authorities are closely monitoring the situation and taking precautions. Some people who want to cuddle cows will also be taking precautions if they are aware of this zoonosis and avoid cows.

Some more on avian flu infecting people

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is an infectious type of influenza that primarily affects birds. However, in rare cases, it can also infect humans. Here are some key points about avian flu:

Strains of Bird Flu Virus:

  • Most bird flu viruses do not infect humans. However, there are four strains that have caused concern:
  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)
  • While these strains don’t easily infect people and are not usually spread from human to human, there have been cases of human infection worldwide, leading to fatalities.
How Bird Flu Spreads to Humans:
  • Bird flu is primarily spread through close contact with infected birds (dead or alive).
  • This includes touching infected birds, their droppings, or bedding.
  • Markets where live birds are sold can also be a source of bird flu.
  • Eating fully cooked poultry or eggs does not transmit bird flu, even in areas with outbreaks.

Symptoms in Humans:

  • The main symptoms of bird flu can appear rapidly and include:
  • Very high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • Aching muscles
  • Headache
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Other early symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain, bleeding from the nose and gums, and conjunctivitis.
  • Severe complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome can develop within days of symptoms appearing.

Treatment and Prevention:

  • Antiviral medications can help prevent complications if administered promptly.
  • Prevention measures include avoiding contact with infected birds, practicing good hygiene, and cooking meat thoroughly.
  • There is no specific bird flu vaccine available.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 3 May 2024

Bird flu blinds barn cats and kills half in days on Texas farm

This is a cross post because it is an important story. It is also a tragic story as half of the 24 barn cats on this Texas farm died quickly of bird flu which they contracted, it is believed, from drinking the unpasteurised milk from the cows with which they lived. 

Bird flu blinds barn cats and kills half in days on Texas farm
Barn cats drink unpasteurised milk in a milking barn and caught bird flu which killed them. This is a fictional image please note based on the image on the internet. 

Their deaths were unpleasant and painful. The story was announced by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which revealed that at least 24 cats on this Texas farm experienced severe health symptoms such as depression, body stiffness, ataxia (loss of coordination), blindness, circling and extreme upper respiratory infection with excessive mucus from their eyes and noses.

Autopsies were carried out on the cats some of whom had died in as little as two days after they fell ill. The virus had spread to their entire body, lungs, brains, heart and eyes.

It also believed the cats contracted the disease from infected cattle by being in close contact with them. Clearly, the disease is a zoonosis (zoonotic disease) because it is transferable from one species of animal to another.

The disease can be transmitted in saliva, droppings and other body fluids and as mentioned in consuming raw milk (colostrum) from the cows.

CDC obtained the bodies of two of the cats as well as samples of milk from the cows. They also examined tissue samples from six of the cows. Three of the cows were euthanized and three had died of the virus.

All the animals were revealed to have been infected with H5N1 bird flu, specifically the one designated, a highly pathogenic variety that killed a dolphin in Florida recently.

The cats had microscopic lesions in their brains, heart and lungs. They examined photographs of the barn where they lived and saw that they drank milk from a designated bowl as well as directly from cows.

It appears that the symptoms were first observed in the cats and so CDC tested the cows in which they found symptoms including tiny lesions in their memory glands.

The situation with avian flu designated A(H5N1) has become serious in America. It first emerged in 1996 but since 2020 the number of outbreaks has increased rapidly with tens of millions of poultry killed and wild birds and land and marine animals also infected.

Being a zoonosis, the disease can be transferred to people and earlier in the month a dairy farm worker in Texas became the second American to become infected with the virus. The farmworker contracted a mild infection with just one symptom which was an inflammation of the eye and recovered well. They were placed into isolation.

It is believed that they didn't transfer the disease to others and were being treated with the drug Tamiflu. This occurred in Texas as well and is believed to be the first case of a human infected by avian influenza from a cow.

The virus is mutating making it easier to jump posts as happened with the Covid-19 virus.


Cats can be protected from A(H5N1) if they are given a vaccination. However, it’s important to note that cats can still shed some of the virus, albeit in low numbers. If a cat is exhibiting symptoms, it should be put into isolation and kept indoors. Then, it should be taken to a vet for testing to determine the presence of H5N1. Additionally, here are some other preventive measures for cat owners:

  1. Limit Contact with Possible Vectors: To prevent the spread of H5N1 among cats, limit their contact with other possible vectors such as birds and cattle. Cats should also avoid contact with fomites, such as milking equipment.

  2. Avoid Unpasteurized Milk: Do not allow cats to drink unpasteurized milk, as this could be a potential source of infection.

  3. Minimize Unnecessary Contact: If highly pathogenic influenza viruses are found or suspected in a cat, minimize unnecessary contact. Use gloves, a mask, and goggles for protection when handling the cat.

Remember that while the risk of cat-to-human transmission of influenza is low, taking precautions is essential to protect both cats and humans. If you suspect your cat may have been exposed to A(H5N1), consult with a veterinarian promptly.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 26 February 2024

Mail Online continues to scaremonger about pet cats being a "major harborer of deadly diseases"

NEWS AND OPINION: I'm irritated. The Mail Online has published yet another article also by their deputy health editor in America, Alexa Lardieri, in which she exaggerates either deliberately or carelessly the potential for the domestic cat to carry zoonotic diseases which can be transferred to people. 

In her headline she says that the pet cat is a "major harbourer of deadly diseases". The phrase "major harbourer" is highly misleading. It is irresponsible. It is likely to lead to many cat owners questioning whether they should continue to own a cat. 

The domestic cat is not a major harborer of zoonotic diseases. It does carry some zoonotic diseases but we know they are rarely transferred or are rarely serious otherwise there wouldn't be hundreds of millions of domestic cats around the globe. And relative to humans spreading disease to other humans, the domestic cat is in a minor league. There is no comparison. That's because nearly all diseases affecting cats cannot be transmitted to people.

What she has written in the Mail Online might lead to cats being surrendered to animal shelters where they might be euthanised despite being healthy.

Two more examples of Mail Online's misleading, clickbait articles that harm the cat:
This woman is dangerous for the domestic cat. She is referring to the recent Oregon bubonic plague case - an incredibly rare case - in which it was assessed that a resident was hospitalised with the disease having got it from a cat.

Back in the 1300s in England it was a deadly disease killing many thousands but today it can be cured with antibiotics which weren't available back in the day. It is no longer a deadly disease but Alexa likes to use click bait tactics to get more hits to her newspaper in scaremongering and giving the impression that the domestic cat is wandering around the place spreading deadly diseases to residents.

This is entirely incorrect and as I mentioned, irresponsible. She is also referred to recent 'Alaskapox' death. This is another extremely rare infection which occurs as you can guess in Alaska. It is a viral disease and in this case an elderly man died after contracting it.

The experts say that it appears to be zoonotic and it appears to be circulating across Alaska's mammals with occasional transmission to humans. Notice that it is carried by "mammals" meaning other animals as well as possibly and perhaps rarely the domestic cat.

It's mainly found in small mammals including voles and shrews but sometimes cats as well and over the past nine years seven people in Alaska have been infected by it. It appears that, rarely, a domestic cat contracts the disease when bumping into or preying upon a small mammal that has the disease.

Nearly all of the people who contracted it had mild illnesses which resolved on their own after a few weeks without treatment. The symptoms include bumps or pustules on the skin and joint or muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes.

Let's be sensible, please. It is pretty clear to me that Alexa Lardieri doesn't like cats. She wants cats to be kept indoors all the time and it appears that she has an agenda to promote. Her writing is not neutral or unbiased. To me, she is not a good reporter.

I hope people think about what she's saying, do their own research and find out as I have that she is exaggerating and scaremongering.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 17 December 2023

"Link" between cat ownership and schizophrenia DOES NOT PROVE CAUSE AND EFFECT

As usual, from time to time the news media like to claim that owning a cat can cause schizophrenia. They cite studies and a new one has recently been published. But the news media reporters tend or always miss a very important point which I'll explain.

In broad terms you can categorise scientific studies into two groups: those that are observational and those that prove cause and effect.

Observational studies

These simply observe what is going on and report on it. So in the study referred to (see citation at base of this post) they found the following: "Our findings support an association between cat exposure and an increased risk of broadly defined schizophrenia-related disorders" and this: "We found that individuals exposed to cats had approximately twice the odds of developing schizophrenia". But this does not prove that owning a cat increases the chances of the owner developing schizophrenia.

It might but it is not proved scientifically through a detailed scientific analysis of the transference of the zoonotic disease T. Gondii from the cat to the person. The argument is that T. Gondii causes schizophrenia. But the observed cat owners might be predisposed to schizophrenia for any number of reasons and they just happen to own a cat.

Or the results might be explained by the fact that people who have fragile minds are more likely to adopt a cat for support and company as they find it harder to find a partner who accepts them. That last point is probably the most likely reason for this link between exposure to cats and schizophrenia-related disorders.

Cause and effect

I have touched on this above. The study would have to prove through hard science that cats caused these illnesses and as far as I know they have not. The study in question reviewed 17 early studies over 44 years.

I have done a lot of work on this topic and I have never seen it proved that cats cause schizophrenia-related illnesses.

One last point: often scientists have an axe to grind. They might dislike cats. Or they are funded by businesses who dislike cats. Or governments who have an agenda such as to keep cats inside the home full-time to protect native species or protect native species by reducing the domestic cat population. This kind of study might put people off adopting a cat for instance.

Click the following link to read another article about cat poop causing mental illness: Inconclusive study does not find Toxoplasma gondii infection causes schizophrenia in people.


Beware studies in general. Many are excellent and very useful but some are not. A recent story from the UK reported that one online journal deleted 40,000 studies as they were dubious. It is believed that they were churned out to boost the scientists' CV. They were fake and the journal had not been rigorous enough in vetting them.

RELATED: Beware of "bad science" research papers published online.

The study

John J McGrath, Carmen C W Lim, Sukanta Saha, Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia-Related Disorders and Psychotic-Like Experiences: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2023;, sbad168,

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 11 December 2023

Woman believed that the 60 roundworms on her eye came from touching a dog or cat and then touching her eye

In what must be an extremely rare case, a Chinese woman in China believed that the 60 roundworms that resided between her eyeballs and her eyelids came from either a dog or cat that she touched and then touched her eye thereby transferring larvae in the fur of either a dog or cat onto her eyes where the larvae hatched and became roundworms. Her eyes were itchy as a consequence.

Worms of the Filarioidea type. These can't have been the worms described in the news media as they are too long. Image: Wikipedia.

Doctors were shocked when they discovered around 60 roundworms, 40 from her right eye and over 10 from her left.

The doctors believed that she was infected by roundworms of the Filarioidea type which is transmitted to people to fly bites or mosquitoes as understand it.

The lava of these roundworms do not reside in dog and cat fur. And therefore, on my research, this woman did not get these roundworms above her eyeball in such large numbers from either a cat or dog but from a mosquito if the correct species of roundworm has been identified.

It is technically possible to acquire roundworms of the Toxocara canis variety by touching a dog that has roundworm larvae on their bodies and then touching the eye to transmit the lava from the dog to the person. However, the roundworms of the Toxocara canis species are around 15-20 cm long.

On that basis, it's impossible that this was the roundworm in the cited case because it would be impossible to have 60 of these worms residing in between the eyeball and the eyelid.

Clearly, these worms were very small and it would appear, therefore, that there were of an entirely different species because roundworms of the Filarioidea species are also much too long to reside in large numbers above the eyeball as stated. They can be 8 to 12 inches in length.

Therefore, the reporting in the news media is inaccurate but perhaps the lesson to be taken from this inaccurate reporting is that it is possible to acquire a roundworm infection from your dog as the eggs from the species are passed in the dog's faeces and can contaminate the dog's fur or the environment. The fur can be touched by the person and, as mentioned, transmitted to the person but it won't be these tiny worms described by the news media.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Friend tells pregnant woman that she is a bad mother because she won't get rid of her cats

NEWS AND COMMENT: This is a story which probably happens not infrequently inside homes across the planet. And it's a bit sad that two workplace friends fell out when one of them became pregnant and insisted on keeping her four cats despite the protestations of her friend.

Pregnant women don't have to get rid of their cat because there are alternative ways of dealing with a potential infection of Toxoplasma gondii which can be highly effective and protect the baby completely.

And what is doubly upsetting is that other workplace women agreed with her friend that he should give up her cats. It seems that they might have ostracised her to a certain extent.

The woman in question has lived with cats all her life. She has four cats; all rescues by the way which is great. She was baffled by her friend insisting that she get rid of the cats to protect her unborn baby.

The story comes from The pregnant woman is 30 years of age and her friend, Josie, is 28. The pregnant woman has been married for 10 years.

As sooner as her friend found out that she was pregnant she went into a long description of why the cats had to go and why pregnant women should not change the cat litter boxes to protect the unborn child.

She was somewhat baffled by the advice. I think she knew about toxoplasmosis already and as she had grown up with cats all her life, she thought that if she was going to get the disease she would have been infected already. A good percentage of people are infected by toxoplasmosis without realising it because the disease is asymptomatic.

But the big point is this one: she's got a husband who can change the litter box! There was no need for this pregnant woman to take any chances.

The point here is that pregnant women don't have to get rid of their cats because there are better ways of dealing with this potential health problem concerning the unborn child. Although this potential health problem is, I agree, a serious one.

Another point worth making is that nearly all toxoplasmosis infections in humans come from eating undercooked food, handling uncooked food or drinking unpasteurised milk. The source is food rather than the domestic cat.

The problem is this: the parasite which causes a Toxoplasma gondii infection can cross the placenta and infect the developing foetus where it can cause congenital toxoplasmosis.

The severity of the infection depends upon the gestation age at which the mother becomes infected.

If the infection is early, it is generally more severe. The unborn child can experience a range of complications including birth defects, stillbirth or miscarriage. The birth defects can include hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, blindness, I inflammation, visual impairments or neurological disorders.

Infected unborn children, once born may not show symptoms at birth but they can develop complications later in life such as hearing problems or cognitive development problems.

Common sense precautions are the answer. Pregnant women should practise good hygiene through hand washing after handling raw meat and, as mentioned, avoiding contact with cat litter boxes. Raw vegetables should be washed thoroughly.

Lastly, domestic cats get a bad rap for being a vector of Toxoplasma gondii. They are only infective for about 10 days in their entire life. It is not as if they are carrying the disease all their lives and can spread it to hundreds of people. It doesn't work like that. People who provide advice like this woman should understand toxoplasmosis a little more thoroughly before handing down advice to pregnant women.

Toxoplasmosis is a zoonosis or a zoonotic disease because it can infect both animals and people and cross between them.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 14 July 2023

European Union tells cat owners to keep their cats indoors full-time (in certain areas)

The headline may surprise you. In Europe, the default cat ownership M.O. is to allow cats and indoor/outdoor life. Things are changing but that is the current method. However, the worst-ever outbreak of bird flu has hit the European continent which led to the European Food Safety Authority deciding to make the announcement. Twenty-four cats in Poland tested positive for the virus and the authority fears that avian influenza could be evolving to spread among mammals.

Notes about bird flu, domestic cats and people.

Cats on a farm as exposed to bird flu
Cats on a farm as exposed to bird flu. Image: MikeB

As you probably know, bird flu is zoonotic which means that it can be transmitted between different animal species. Even people can get it. And if cats can get it from birds, then theoretically at least cats can give it to people. The disease has the potential for being quite serious. I suppose there is even a technical possibility that it could create another pandemic.

Since late 2021, bird flu has killed millions of birds in Europe and in other countries. Sixty-seven countries on five continents reported (H5N1) outbreaks. More than 131 million poultry have either died of bird flu or been killed by farmers to prevent the spread of bird flu.

And although we know that 24 cats tested positive for bird flu as mentioned, outbreaks in other areas have led to 26 different species contracting the disease including farmed mink in Spain. This is highly concerning for the authorities.

The European Food Safety Authority wants there to be less exposure of the disease to domestic cats and dogs and to achieve that objective they said: "Possible measures are keeping dogs on a leash, and confining cats indoors in areas where extensive circulation of HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] viruses in wild birds has been confirmed."

Around 70 domestic cats might have died of bird flu in Poland since June 23. The World Health Organisation said that "some mammals may act as mixing vessels for influenza viruses, leading to the emergence of new viruses that could be harmful to animals and humans."

They added that, "Avian influenza viruses normally spread among birds, but the increasing number of H5N1 avian influenza detections among mammals-which are biologically closer to humans than birds are-raises concern that the virus might adapt to infect humans more easily."

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Cats can get bird flu by eating raw chicken necks and experts recommend feeding raw chicken necks to domestic cats

You may have heard about the bird flu outbreak among domestic cats in Poland. It is reported that at least 24 sick or dead cats tested positive for H5N1 in Poland according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. There are uncertainties about how the cats contracted the disease but 13 were found to have been fed raw poultry meat.

Bird flu
Bird flu. Image: MikeB

My mind then jumped to advice that you can read on the Internet from various sources including veterinary websites about the benefit of feeding domestic cats with the raw neck of poultry because it is very good for the teeth and it is cartilaginous which minimises the harm that they might experience when biting into bones.

You can also feed domestic cats bird wings. Once again, the idea is to improve gum health because, to be frank, the large pelleted dry cat food is not that great at cleaning teeth and preventing the buildup of calculus along the gum line.

Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM and author recommends feeding raw chicken to cats so that they can bite on bone. There is a risk but he argues that the benefit outweighs the risk.

At present, with a bird flu epidemic in Poland and with bird flu present in other countries including the UK, I would suggest that people should not feed their cat companions with chicken neck because the risk/reward balance has been shifted by the presence of bird flu.

"H5N8 and H5N1 bird flu have been found in some poultry, other captive birds and wild birds in the UK." - NHS

The disease is zoonotic and therefore it can be transmitted from birds to cats as we can see from the Polish problem. In Poland, incidentally, one cat owner said that she feed her cat raw chicken purchased from a large supermarket chain. Within days of eating the raw chicken her cat became drowsy. A veterinarian suspected a cold but within days her cat began to lose balance and she fell off a chair.

Her hind legs were paralysed and she stopped eating completely. Antibiotics and steroids were unable to help and the cat died seven days after eating the raw meat.

Thursday 4 May 2023

2 instances when cat many owners destroyed their cats believing they'd catch a fatal disease from them

There have been a couple of high-profile instances when many cat owners deliberately destroyed their cat companions because they believed that they might catch a fatal disease from them.

AIDS in humans set of panic in nervous cat owners who killed their cats
AIDS in humans set off panic in nervous cat owners who killed their cats. Image: CNN.


Feline AIDS as it is sometimes called or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) was discovered in 1986. In June 1981, the first cases of the illness now known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reported from Los Angeles in five young homosexual men diagnosed with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and other opportunistic infections (CDC).

The news media reported on FIV in a way which scared the population into believing that they could catch the disease from their cats.

This led to some cat owners panicking and killing their cats. Within hours of the newspaper reports nervous cat owners were taking their cats to shelters and asking them to euthanise them or find new homes.

Eventually the news media researched the facts and reported that the virus that causes feline AIDS was not zoonotic i.e., it cannot be transmitted to humans but the damage had been done and many cats were killed unnecessarily.

It is true that the viruses causing human and feline AIDS belong to the same group of viruses but they are distantly related. There is no way a cat can give a human the disease even by biting and scratching them.


When this disease was first reported in the news media, I can well remember the effect it had on nervous cat owners in China. Those in high rise apartment blocks began throwing their cats out of the windows to their deaths on the paving below.

Cats thrown from tower blocks in China during the early days of the Covid pandemic
Cats thrown from tower blocks in China during the early days of the Covid pandemic. Image in public domain.

It was dire. And then as the pandemic progressed thousands of cat owners abandoned their pets in locked apartments for them to die of starvation. It was utterly mad.

At the time there was no media reports of the possibility of contracting the disease from companion animals so these cat killings were entirely out of panic. 

As it transpired it was found that Covid is zoonotic and can infect people. And people can get the disease from pets but even at the end of the pandemic there have been exceptionally few examples.

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