SINGAPORE: Dr Paul Tambyah shared his perspective regarding the claim that cats spread rabies or other diseases in Singapore in a video clip on his Facebook page on Monday (June 26).
“Some people say that cats can actually spread infectious diseases, and the answer is, that’s not true. Because in actual fact, cats are part of the ecosystem. And they do get rid of some small animals which are far more guilty of spreading infectious diseases such as cockroaches and rats.”
Dr Tambyah, who is an infectious disease specialist as well as the Assistant Dean of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, as well as the chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), held a dialogue regarding cat issues on May 30 that had been organized by the SDP.
Dr Tambyah acknowledged that a couple of infectious diseases are associated with cats, giving the example of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.
He added, however, that “this is one of the things that all pregnant women are told to let their husband change the cat litter,” explaining that most people infected with the Toxoplasma parasite are asymptomatic and have no complications, but risks are present for pregnant women, those who have had transplants or are otherwise immunocompromised.
Toxoplasmosis, while usually contracted when people eat poorly cooked food, can also be spread through contact with infected cat faeces. Therefore, having someone else change the cat litter bin rather than a pregnant woman is “a simple practical thing you can do.”
However, he added that “from the infectious disease point of view, I don’t think there’s any evidence that cats are more dangerous than other animals,” adding that “they’re certainly a lot less dangerous than humans.” /TISG
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