Baby catches meningitis from pet cat

Infection may have been passed when cat licked baby’s bottle

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Mum of 3-year-old Sparkle Anderson has revealed how her daughter nearly died from meningitis caught from their pet cat Chesney.

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Sparkle was only 3 weeks old when she developed a high fever, began to be sick and had a high pitched-piercing cry. She was rushed to hospital where doctors finally diagnosed meningitis.

Sparkle was seriously ill, and spent nearly a month in hospital.

When tests were carried out on the strain of bacterial meningitis, a doctor asked Sparkle’s mum if they had a pet.

It turned out the strain was very rare, and was only found in the saliva of animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits and pigs.

“They thought the bug was transferred through Chesney’s saliva,” explains Sparkle’s mum, Chelsea-Ann. “I’d been careful not to leave them alone together, but Chesney must have licked Sparkle’s milk bottle while my back was turned.

 “I was really surprised when the doctors said she caught it from the cat – I didn’t have a clue it was possible,” she told the Mirror

“I was consumed with guilt – I felt as if I hadn’t kept a careful enough eye on things, and that Sparkle’s sickness was all my fault.”

Sparkle has now made a full recovery and is a healthy 3 year old.

And Chesney? Chelsea-Ann didn’t want to keep him in the house, but also didn’t want to put him down. In the end, Chesney is happily settled 4 miles away, living with Sparkle’s grandma.

Sparkle regularly plays with Chesney when she visits her gran, after doctors confirmed there was no health risk.

Sparkle’s grandma adds, “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.”

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