The water and muddy conditions during the Northern Australian ‘wet’ brings an increased threat of a dangerous disease for cats.
Melioidosis (pronounced mel-ee-oi-doh-sis) is caused by bacteria that live in the soil and ground water. Cats are infected through cuts or scratches or by breathing in contaminated water droplets.
It can cause symptoms in like fever, loss of appetite or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes infected animals will show few symptoms at all before becoming fatally ill.
Melioidosis is difficult to treat, requiring careful diagnosis and long course of antibiotics. It is often fatal.
Humans, livestock and other domestic animals in tropical regions commonly catch Melioidosis, too.
What can you do to protect your cat?
Fortunately, Melioidosis is rare in healthy cats.
Prevention is the best strategy:
- Provide your cat with a place to live and sleep that is dry and away from soil.
- Provide an ample supply of clean drinking water, water that is approved for human consumption.
- Keep cats away from faeces and dead animals in the environment.
- Keep cats in or close to home. Cats that live in a domestic environment are less likely to become infected than cats that roam widely.
As well as protecting your cat, take care to protect yourself. Melioidosis infects people too so protect your feet and hands when working in wet or muddy conditions. Take care when handling sick or deceased cats. Experts recommend commercial cremation where that is available.
As with other conditions, watch out for any changes in your cat’s habits or behaviour and, if you are concerned, contact your vet.
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Overview of Melioidosis Jodie Low Choy, BVSc, BVMS, IVAS Cert, Menzies School of Health Research; University Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Northern Territory, Australia