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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 11, 2006

Transmission of Disease by Pets.

Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(14):1789. doi:10.1001/jama.296.14.1789-b

THE JOURNAL commented on “The Pathologic Cat,” July 21, page 209. Another warning on the danger from pet cats and dogs is from Remlinger and Nouri of Constantinople, who relate instances from their experience in which the strictest measures of isolation and disinfection were nullified by a pet cat allowed to roam through the house. They state: “There is scarcely a hospital or ward without its cat or cats, and they go from bed to bed and ward to ward seeking for tidbits and caresses which the convalescents are only too glad to bestow to while away the time.” They describe in a communication to the newly founded journal, Hygiène Gén. et Appliquée, experiments with cats whose fur was touched with cultures of various bacteria. They found typhoid bacilli still alive and viable up to the seventeenth day after inoculation of the fur. Diphtheria bacilli were viable up to the twenty-fourth day, but were dead by the twenty-seventh, while anthrax bacilli lived and persisted indefinitely. All these germs were found with unattenuated virulence as long as they could be cultivated from the cat's fur. The results of similar tests on dogs were approximately the same. The article concludes with the statement that fondling cats and dogs is an antihygienic habit. Until the habit is abandoned for good, at least the hands should be washed with soap and water whenever one of these animals has been touched.

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