Audio Communication 04/21/18 — Concerning the New York Times article New York Mice Are Crawling With Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses

mouse in glue trap
Glue traps are a cruel and horrible way to kill mice. The removal of the dead mouse is an additional health risk. Here, some irresponsible person simply tossed the trap to the curb, creating a hazard for children, wildlife and outdoor cats.


http://catrescue.tv/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/metrocatrescue042118-nyt041717mousevirusbacteria.m4a
Metro Cat Rescue reply to New York Times article New York Mice Are Crawling With Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses statement that “Cats have their own viruses.”

New York Mice Are Crawling With Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/science/urban-mice-viruses-bacteria.html

New York City House Mice (Mus musculus) as Potential Reservoirs for Pathogenic Bacteria and Antimicrobial Resistance Determinants
http://mbio.asm.org/content/9/2/e00624-18

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Should everybody get a cat? “Cats have their own viruses,” Dr. Calisher noted.

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Email to Dr. Calisher:

This seems to imply that cats pose a significant risk of zoonotic viruses. Was that what you meant? What viruses in cats pose a danger? What research supports this?

The one virus listed here
https://www2.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/zoonotic-disease-what-can-i-catch-my-cat
is rabies. For a cat kept indoors, the risk of rabies should be nearly nil. And for those immunized, the probability of even outdoor cats catching rabies is very low. Around 250 cats in the US are reported to be infected each year. At a quick look, it does not seem that any transmitted the virus to people.
https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html

Cats can catch influenza. I’m not aware that felines are a significant factor in the spread of the disease or as a vehicle for recombination — a “mixing vessel” like pigs. Compared to migrating birds and the worldwide poultry industry, flu in cats seems to be more of a curiosity than a concern. If there is research that shows otherwise, I’d very much like to know about it.

Because of Toxoplasma gondii, there continues to be a witch hunt against cats. No matter that with anything resembling sanitation there basically is no risk. No matter that most human infection with the parasite is due to the consumption of under-cooked meat and/or contaminated and unwashed raw vegetables. It would be a tragedy if that instead of seeing cats as the first line of defense against rodent disease — a war that’s raged since the Pharaohs — people began to imagine a feline enemy within.

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Dr. Calisher’s reply:

. . .

Anyway, the “Cats have their own viruses” statement looks like something I probably said but it seems out of place, maybe misleading, in the article.

In case you are interested, I had a cat once. It was our neighbors’. They weren’t crazy about it but they treated it very well. The cat, however, loved our dog and would spend the days I our house with the dog while we were gone; it entered using a doggie door, not meant to be a cattie door. I’m not particularly enamored of cats, although I liked this one and he liked me. He’d bring me dead birds and live mice in the middle of the night, drop them on my belly and then sit on my pillow, look down at me, and purr loud enough to wake up my wife and I.

Nonetheless, cats have been known known to be infected with viruses, parasites, bacteria, fungi and other infectious agents: feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia virus, heartworm, the plague bacillus in their fleas, rabies virus, the fungus that causes “ringworm”, toxoplasmosis, influenzaviruses, and various worms. Cats are probably no more dangerous as disease carriers than any other mammal – but they can be dangerous. Not very dangerous (except for rabies and plague) but they can be carriers of Bartonella henselae bacteria, the cause of cat scratch disease.

Your defensiveness is honorable.

Regards,

Charles H. Calisher, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology

www.amazon.com/dp/061582773X

College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University

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