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Vets warned about cat disease outbreak that can kill humans

Vets warned about cat disease outbreak that can kill humans

The HSE is warning people to be aware of a disease outbreak in domestic cats that could lead to the death of humans.

That's according to Agriland and today's Irish Mail on Sunday.

According to the paper, the diphtheria disease has the potential to kill humans as it produces something similar to a toxin that can be harmful to people.

Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that generally affects the tonsils, pharynx, larynx, and sometimes the skin.


Roughly 65% of those aged over 30 may be vulnerable to the disease as a result of waning vaccination immunity.

Diphtheria is something children are vaccinated against during the immunisation schedule, but immunity does decrease with age.

Symptoms include a sore throat and finding it difficult to swallow.

Other common symptoms are a low-grade fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and a fast heart rate.


The Veterinary Council of Ireland has received a warning from the HSE to let them know to be aware of this.

"Humans who come into contact with infected animals may be at risk of diphtheria. Between 5 and 10% of humans infected with diphtheria die," it warned.

Veterinary staff who suspect that an animal has the disease have been advised to wear personal protective equipment when handling it.

In a statement to Beat News, a HSE Spokesperson said, "All tetanus booster vaccines contain protection for diphtheria. There have been no human cases of Diphtheria reported in 2023."


The last known cases were in 2015 and 2016, with the last diphtheria-related death recorded in 1967.