Don't Kiss Your Cat

A 38-year-old dentist who had a history of stomach problems was found to have 10 ulcers when doctors performed endoscopy, an examination of the intestinal tract with a lighted instrument. Testing revealed that the man was infected with three different strains of Helicobacter heilmannii, a type of bacteria often found in animals, but rarely in humans. One strain of bacteria was identical to that found in one of the man's two cats. H. heilmannii infects a variety of animals and is found in 80% to 100% of cats, dogs and pigs, causing mild to moderate gastritis, or stomach inflammation.

The transmission of the bacterium does not seem to be very effective, however, since the prevalence of H. heilmannii is very high in pets, but fortunately very low in humans. In cats and dogs, H. heilmannii colonization is associated with mild to moderate gastritis; in humans it cause mild gastritis, but people infected by H. heilmannii have also developed gastric ulcers and even cancer.

Journal of Clinical Microbiology (1998;36:1366-1370)

COMMENT: I thought that the cat owners would enjoy this article. Cats also have the capacity to transmit toxoplasmosis which has great potential to cause harm to a developing fetus. So in addition to not taking care of the cat litter, pregnant woman should also not kiss their cats.

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