A man contracted a never-before-seen virus after being bitten by a cat in the United Kingdom.
The man went to the hospital with swollen hands after having been bitten by a stray cat a few hours earlier. He was given antibiotics, and sent home. He returned to the hospital the next day feeling even worse. He had an infection in his fingers that was so painful, he struggled to move them.
The doctors could tell something unusual was happening, so they tried a variety of methods to treat him. Damaged tissue was removed from his fingers. He went through an intensive antibiotic treatment through an IV which provided a more direct attack on the bacteria. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.
The doctors took samples from the damaged tissue removal to undergo a microbiological analysis. The doctors discovered a never-before-seen species of bacteria.
Genetic testing confirmed that the bacteria was a new species of Globicatella, a rare pathogen genus.
Thankfully, he has made a full recovery. But incidents like these point to the chilling reality of zoonotic diseases, and the devastating impacts they can have on humans and other animals.
Cats are not to blame!
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: it is not a cat’s fault that they can be carriers of disease.
Cats are merely victims of circumstance, often abandoned or born in the wild, without access to proper care, vaccinations, or medical treatment.
The diseases they may carry are typically a result of their environment, diet, and the lack of human intervention to ensure their health and wellbeing.
1. Lack of Veterinary Care
Stray cats typically don't have access to regular veterinary care, which includes vaccinations and preventive treatments. Vaccinations protect against common diseases like rabies and feline leukemia, while preventive treatments help guard against parasites like fleas and worms. Without this care, stray cats are more susceptible to infections and illnesses that can be passed on to other animals and humans.
2. Harsh Living Conditions
Living on the streets exposes stray cats to various environmental problems. They may have to endure extreme weather conditions, lack of proper shelter, and exposure to toxins and pollutants. These factors can weaken their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to diseases.
3. Unbalanced Diet
Stray cats often rely on scavenging for food, leading to an unbalanced and inadequate diet. Malnutrition can further compromise their immune systems, making them more prone to infections and less able to fight off disease.
4. Interaction with Other Wildlife
In their struggle for survival, stray cats often come into contact with other wild animals, some of which may carry diseases. Bites, scratches, or even sharing food sources can lead to the transmission of diseases between species.
The overpopulation of stray cats in some areas leads to competition for resources and close living quarters. These conditions can facilitate the rapid spread of diseases within the cat population. Overpopulation often stems from uncontrolled breeding, as stray cats usually are not spayed or neutered.
6. Human Interaction
Stray cats that live in urban areas may come into close contact with humans and domestic animals. This proximity can lead to the transmission of zoonotic diseases, which can spread between animals and humans.
7. Genetic Factors
Some stray cats may be more genetically predisposed to certain diseases or health conditions, further contributing to their risk.
Animals and Zoonotic Diseases
Zoonotic diseases might sound like a complicated term, but it's actually pretty simple to understand. These are diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. It's like a cold that you might catch from someone else, but in this case, it comes from an animal. Let's learn more about these diseases, how they spread, and what we can do to stay safe.
What Are Zoonotic Diseases?
Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that animals can give to people. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Some examples of zoonotic diseases that you might have heard of are rabies (from dog bites), Lyme disease (from tick bites), and bird flu (from birds like chickens). Bird flu spreads quickly in the overcrowded conditions in which chickens are commonly kept, resulting in great suffering for these innocent animals.
How Do Zoonotic Diseases Spread?
These diseases can spread in different ways, like:
Bites and Scratches: If an infected animal bites or scratches you, they can pass on the disease.
Touching or Petting Animals: Sometimes, just touching an infected animal or their excrement can spread the disease.
Being Around Infected Animals: Sometimes, just being close to infected animals or breathing in the same air can spread the disease.
Protecting Humans and Cats from Zoonotic Diseases
There are steps we can take to help protect ourselves and animals from the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Wash Your Hands: Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching animals, even pets.
Take Caution Around Wild Animals: It's better not to touch wild animals, as they might carry diseases.
Take Care of Your Companion Animals: Regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and keeping your companion animals clean can help keep them, and you, healthy.
Addressing Stray Overpopulation Helps Cats AND Humans!
The stray overpopulation crisis means hundreds of millions of stray cats suffer on the streets with no access to veterinary care. This means countless cats suffer from treatable diseases, and also increases the risk of dangerous diseases spreading to humans.
Our nonprofit science-centered mission is to significantly reduce animal suffering on a global scale by developing a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats.
By helping to solve the stray overpopulation crisis right at its source, we can help save cats and humans from needless suffering!