Aujeszky's disease in cats: what is it?

Aujeszky's disease is life-threatening for cats, but luckily it is very rare in Germany. The virus is transmitted primarily through raw pork. You can find out here how the infection with the disease, also known as pseudo rage, goes and how you can protect your cat from it. Cats can get dangerous Aujeszky's disease from raw pork - Shutterstock / Master L

Aujeszky's disease was named after the Hungarian professor of veterinary pathology Aladár Aujeszky, who was the first to describe the fatal infection for cats. The Aujeszky virus is a herpes virus. The main hosts are pigs and rats, but the virus can also affect cats, dogs and other animals.

How does Aujeszky's disease develop in cats?

Cats can get Aujeszky's disease primarily from eating raw pork. Pigs are better armed against the Aujeszky virus so that they can survive the disease. However, the meat of infected animals can go on sale. Even if the virus is said to no longer exist in Germany, pork from abroad can spread Aujeszky's disease. However, this only applies if it is consumed raw, because the virus is killed at 60 degrees Celsius. If a cat eats raw pork, there can be no doubt that it is infected with the Aujeszky virus.

Infection from the bite of sick animals, for example from infected rats, is less common, but also possible. In theory, contagion via live pigs is also conceivable if cats have contact with sick animals on a farm, for example. Furthermore, indirect transmission cannot be ruled out, for example due to contaminated transport vehicles or equipment. After two to seven days, the symptoms of the disease, which resemble those of rabies and affect the central nervous system, become apparent. Therefore Aujeszky's disease is also known as pseudo-rage.

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How high is the risk of infection in Germany?

Germany is officially considered free of the Aujeszky virus, and has been since 2003. The risk of developing pseudo-rage is therefore very low in Germany. However, the virus does not stop at the border and so Aujeszky's disease can be brought to Germany from abroad through the meat of infected animals. Unfortunately it happens that when meat is declared, unfair methods are used so that consumers can never be 100% sure which is the real country of origin.

Aujeszky's disease is not a danger for people, but infection is always fatal for cats and dogs. For safety reasons, pork should always be fed to pets only through-cooked. If you are vacationing on a farm abroad or in an area where rats are to be expected, you should not let your cat outside. Better safe than sorry.

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