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PURPOSE: There exists inconsistent evidence regarding animals including pets as risk factors for the development of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We investigated the association between farm animals and pets as possible environmental factors in MS development. METHODS: Population based case-control study with 136 clinically definite MS cases and 272 controls randomly chosen from the community matched on sex and age. Data was collected from both questionnaire and a lifetime calendar detailing residence, occupation and pet/animal exposure over the course of participant's lives. RESULTS: Exposure to farming, livestock, specific farm animals and remoteness of residence showed no significant association with MS risk. Exposure to cats prior to disease onset was associated with a greater risk of MS (Adjusted Odds Ratio 2.46 (1.17-5.18)) but without a clear dose-response (test for trend, p=0.76). CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to other literature, farming and exposure to farm animals were not associated with MS. While we identified an association between cat exposure and MS, there was no dose-response relationship, and previous studies showed inconsistent results, leaving us to conclude that there is no strong evidence that exposure to cats is associated with MS.

Original publication




Journal article


Mult Scler Relat Disord

Publication Date





53 - 56


Case-control study, Cat, Dog, Farm animals, Multiple Sclerosis, Pets, Remoteness, Risk factor