Teenager treated for severe lung damage after catching TB from her pet kitten

Jessica Livings was rushed to hospital after contracting the disease

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The Independent Online

A teenager was rushed to hospital with severe lung damage after she contracted tuberculosis from her pet kitten.

Jessica Livings, 19, developed pneumonia and had to have emergency surgery after she caught the disease, in what health officials say is among the first cases in the world of humans picking up the disease from cats.

Her mother, Claire, also contracted a dormant form of TB, the Daily Mail reported.

It is believed the pair caught the illness when they were cleaning a wound on their pet Onyx, whom they had adopted only weeks before.

Ms Livings told the newspaper: “I lost a stone and a half in five weeks, I was very ill and had fevers, cold sweats and hallucinations. I didn't realise what was real and what wasn't.”

She was reportedly diagnosed with the disease in October after a vet voiced concerns over an outbreak of TB among cats in the Newbury area of Berkshire.

Ms Livings was readmitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital last month, but is now classed as being at no risk of passing TB on.

She said: “I feel much better now. Last year was very tough, especially because I didn’t know what it was.”

Her mother told the Daily Mail that their kitten became ill and they discovered he had an open wound under his belly. Despite taking him to the vet he died, but they were unaware that TB was the cause.

Vet Carl Gorman, who reported the outbreak, said he believed it started with a local herd of cows contracting bovine TB.

Public Health England (PHE) this week said that two people in England have developed TB from a cat in the first ever recorded cases of cat-to-human transmission.

PHE has offered precautionary screening to 39 people who may have been in contact with cats infected with the Mycobacterium bovis (M bovis) bacterium, which causes TB in cattle (bovine TB) and in other species.

Of these, 24 people accepted screening. Two were found to have active TB and there were two cases of latent TB, which means they had been exposed to TB at some point but did not have an active infection.

Both people with active TB disease have confirmed infection with M bovis and are responding to treatment.

PHE said there have been no further cases of TB in cats reported in Berkshire or Hampshire since March 2013 and said it believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was “very low”.

Additional reporting by Press Association