A 3-year-old English girl nearly died from a rare form of meningitis after being infected by the family’s cat.
Sparkle Anderson was just three weeks old when she contracted bacterial meningitis from Chesney, her mother’s 2-year-old pet, the Daily Mail reports.
She was rushed to a hospital with high fever and spent a month there recovering from the illness, which is thought to have been transferred when the cat licked Sparkle’s bottle.
“It seemed such an unlikely cause,” Sparkle’s mother Chelsea-Ann Dodd, 21, a promotions assistant from Winsham, Somerset, said. “The doctors said she was only the 39th person in the world known to have picked up that particular strain of meningitis.”
According to the National Meningitis Association, the number of cases change from year to year. Nearly 1,500 Americans were infected each year between 1998 and 2007, with a range of 900 to 3,000 cases. Eleven percent of bacterial meningitis cases result in death.
A spokesperson for the charity Meningitis Now said: “It is possible to contract meningitis from cats but it is very, very rare, so people shouldn’t worry unduly about contracting it in this way.
“Our advice would be to keep your family pet and make sure you know the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
“Take prompt action if you suspect the disease. Among the symptoms to look out for in babies and toddlers are fever, with cold hands and feet; a stiff neck and a dislike of bright lights; an unusual cry or moaning; and being drowsy, floppy or unresponsive.”
The little girl is now said to be “best friends” with Chesney the cat, who was taken to live with her grandmother, The Telegraph reports.
“Chesney still lives with my mum and there's no danger to worry about any more from them being in contact. In fact they follow each other around all the time when we visit,” said Dodd.
“I've been told it's perfectly safe for Sparkle to spend time with Chesney, which is a relief because they've really become best friends,” she added.
“I didn't know very much about meningitis - I always thought the only thing I should be worried about was a rash. But there are lots of other symptoms too, and knowing them can make all the difference in helping to catch it early,” she said.