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Can cats get calf diptheria?

by Tom
(kansas)

Thank you for providing this free service. I may have a question which may require some research. I am sorry for the length of this question.


I have an old vet book and an older barn that is full of manure. The barn is dilapidated and I want to tear it down.

Years ago we had a beef calf get sick and I summoned the local vet to doctor the animal. While I waited, I looked thru this old Vet book and my best guess was the calf had calf diptheria. I asked the Vet if this was what he believed was the ailment. Although he acted astonished, he did concur that it was calf diptheria. He indicated the disease is soil borne and resides there until it finds a host. While reading in this vet book I also found that cats have a similar ailment from basically the same source. I have noticed that over the years, our cats would get a cough then get sicker and sicker till they die.
As the manure has grown, layer upon layer the cats have been healthier.

Fast forward to my plans to tear down the barn. If I disturb the soil with like a bull dozer and raze the old barn, will this present a health hazard to me or my farm animals? Is there a way to prevent the re-exposure of the diptheria that seems to be within the soil/ manure of the barn?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi Tom,

Thanks for the question:

Fusobacterium nucleatum is the subspecies that cats often have, which is different from cattle. Also, this bacteria likely wounldn't have survived because it is primarily spread through direct contact, not through the environment.

The Merck manual says that Calf Diptheria or Necrotic laryngitis is a disease of young cattle characterized by fever, toxemia, inspiratory dyspnea, and stridor. Inflammation of the pharynx, or the laryngeal mucosa and its cartilage, caused by invasion of F necrophorum into existing lesions is responsible for the clinical signs. Necrotic laryngitis primarily affects feedlot cattle 3-18 mo of age; however, cases in calves as young as 5 wk and in cattle as old as 24 mo have been documented. It has a worldwide distribution.

The primary etiologic agent is uncertain because F necrophorum , which is commonly isolated from lesions of affected cattle, is unable to penetrate intact mucous membranes.

There are no specific control measures for necrotic laryngitis; however, the proposed pathogenesis suggests that control measures for common respiratory pathogens may be beneficial.

So I don't think you have to worry about your cats getting sick from this agent.

Comments for Can cats get calf diptheria?

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great answer
by: Anonymous

informative answer-thankyou

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