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Enteropathogens identified in cats entering a Florida animal shelter with normal feces or diarrhea

Stephanie J. SabshinMaddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Julie K. LevyMaddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Tiffany TuplerMaddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Sylvia J. TuckerMaddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Ellis C. GreinerDepartment of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Christian M. LeuteneggerIDEXX Laboratories Inc, 2825 KOVR Dr, West Sacramento, CA 95605.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the frequency of enteropathogens in cats entering an animal shelter with normal feces or diarrhea.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—100 cats evaluated at an open-admission municipal animal shelter in Florida.

Procedures—Fecal samples collected within 24 hours after admission from 50 cats with normal feces and 50 cats with diarrhea were tested by fecal flotation, antigen testing, PCR assay, and electron microscopy for selected enteropathogens.

Results—12 enteropathogens were identified. Cats with diarrhea were no more likely to be infected with ≥ 1 (84%) enteropathogens than were cats with normal feces (84%). Only feline coronavirus was significantly more prevalent in cats with diarrhea (58%) than in cats with normal feces (36%). Other enteropathogens identified in cats with and without diarrhea included Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin A (42% and 50%, respectively), Cryptosporidium spp (10% and 20%, respectively), Giardia spp (20% and 8%, respectively), Cystoisospora spp (14% and 10%, respectively), hookworms (10% and 18%, respectively), ascarids (6% and 16%, respectively), Salmonella spp (6% and 4%, respectively), astrovirus (8% and 2%, respectively), feline panleukopenia virus (4% and 4%, respectively), calicivirus (0% and 2%, respectively), and Spirometra spp (0% and 2%, respectively).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In the present study, cats entered the shelter with a variety of enteropathogens, many of which are pathogenic or zoonotic. Most infections were not associated with diarrhea or any specific risk factors such as signalment, source, or body condition, making it difficult to predict which cats were most likely to be infected. It is not possible to test all shelter cats for all possible infections, so practical guidelines should be developed to treat routinely for the most common and important enteropathogens.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the frequency of enteropathogens in cats entering an animal shelter with normal feces or diarrhea.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—100 cats evaluated at an open-admission municipal animal shelter in Florida.

Procedures—Fecal samples collected within 24 hours after admission from 50 cats with normal feces and 50 cats with diarrhea were tested by fecal flotation, antigen testing, PCR assay, and electron microscopy for selected enteropathogens.

Results—12 enteropathogens were identified. Cats with diarrhea were no more likely to be infected with ≥ 1 (84%) enteropathogens than were cats with normal feces (84%). Only feline coronavirus was significantly more prevalent in cats with diarrhea (58%) than in cats with normal feces (36%). Other enteropathogens identified in cats with and without diarrhea included Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin A (42% and 50%, respectively), Cryptosporidium spp (10% and 20%, respectively), Giardia spp (20% and 8%, respectively), Cystoisospora spp (14% and 10%, respectively), hookworms (10% and 18%, respectively), ascarids (6% and 16%, respectively), Salmonella spp (6% and 4%, respectively), astrovirus (8% and 2%, respectively), feline panleukopenia virus (4% and 4%, respectively), calicivirus (0% and 2%, respectively), and Spirometra spp (0% and 2%, respectively).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In the present study, cats entered the shelter with a variety of enteropathogens, many of which are pathogenic or zoonotic. Most infections were not associated with diarrhea or any specific risk factors such as signalment, source, or body condition, making it difficult to predict which cats were most likely to be infected. It is not possible to test all shelter cats for all possible infections, so practical guidelines should be developed to treat routinely for the most common and important enteropathogens.

Contributor Notes

Supported by Maddie's Fund, the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Program, IDEXX Laboratories Inc, and the Kissimmee Diagnostic Laboratory, Division of Animal Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Address correspondence to Dr. Levy (levyjk@ufl.edu).