A report of tuberculosis in cats in New Zealand, and the examination of strains of Mycobacterium bovis by DNA restriction endonuclease analysis.
M. bovis was isolated from diagnostic samples from 57 cats submitted to New Zealand Animal Health Laboratories from 1974 to 1986. With six exceptions, these cats came from suburban and rural areas of New Zealand where M. bovis was also present in feral and wild animals, especially the brush-tailed possum. Tuberculous skin lesions were seen in 33 (58%) of the cats. Histologically, these lesions had some similarities to those of cat leprosy. Included in the 57 cats was a group of 12 tuberculous animals which were diagnosed in a suburban veterinary practice over a 3 month period. When these 12 M. bovis isolates were examined by DNA restriction endonuclease analysis, they were found to be identical. This evidence, together with the relatively short period during which the cases occurred, suggested that these cats were exposed to a single source of infection.