A WILDLIFE charity in East Huntspill is reassuring pet owners after a cluster of cases of tuberculosis in cats was reported in Berkshire and Hampshire.

The Veterinary Record reposted nine cats in the areas showed signs of infection, with seven cases confirmed as Mycobacterium bovis infection, the same that causes tuberculosis in cows.

Cows grazing on common land 250m away from where the cats lived had same strain of M. Bovis, suggesting a likely link to these pets.

But Pauline Kidner, founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue, said: “The reports, although undoubtedly worrying for the owners involved, should be kept in proportion.

“Less than 30 cats have been reported with M. bovis TB in the last seven years, out of a population of over 10 million cats in the UK.

“The chance of being infected with TB from your cat is therefore very, very low.”

Seven out of the nine cats had bite wounds, which made cat-cat or rodent-cat transmission the most likely route of infection, although they can contract it by drinking infected milk from tuberculous cows.

Although two people in contact with the cats became infected with M. bovis TB, this is very unusual.

M. bovis accounts for just 0.7% of human TB cases in the UK, the rest being as a result of human strains of the disease such as M. tuberculosis.

Ms Kidner added there have been no increases in M. bovis cases in humans in recent years.