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Abstract

Objective—To estimate cat population size, management, and outside fecal deposition and evaluate attitudes of cat owners and nonowners to stray animal control, water pollution, and wildlife protection.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—294 adult residents of Cayucos, Los Osos, and Morro Bay, Calif.

Procedures—Telephone survey.

Results—The region's cat population was estimated at 7,284 owned and 2,046 feral cats, and 38% of surveyed households owned a mean of 1.9 cats/household. Forty-four percent of cats defecated outside >75% of the time. Annual fecal deposition (wet weight) by owned cats in the 3 communities was estimated to be 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons). Cat owners were more likely to oppose cat licensing and impounding stray cats and support trap-neuter-return for stray cats and less likely to be concerned about water pollution, than were noncat owners.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Feral cats represented a sizeable proportion (22%) of the free roaming cats in this area and could be contributing 30.0 tonnes (29.5 tons) of feces to the environment per year. However, feral cats are not the principal source of fecal loading because owned cats defecating outdoors contribute an estimated 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons) or 72% of the annual outdoor fecal deposition.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To assess the use of CSF testing with an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) for diagnosis of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) caused by Sarcocystis neurona.

Sample Population—Test results of 428 serum and 355 CSF samples from 182 naturally exposed, experimentally infected, or vaccinated horses.

Procedure—EPM was diagnosed on the basis of histologic examination of the CNS. Probability distributions were fitted to serum IFAT results in the EPM+ and EPM-horses, and correlation between serum and CSF results was modeled. Pairs of serum-CSF titers were generated by simulation, and titer-specific likelihood ratios and post-test probabilities of EPM at various pretest probability values were estimated. Post-test probabilities were compared for use of a serum-CSF test combination, a serum test only, and a CSF test only.

Results—Post-test probabilities of EPM increased as IFAT serum and CSF titers increased. Post-test probability differences for use of a serum-CSF combination and a serum test only were ≤ 19% in 95% of simulations. The largest increases occurred when serum titers were from 40 to 160 and pre-test probabilities were from 5% to 60%. In all simulations, the difference between pre- and post-test probabilities was greater for a CSF test only, compared with a serum test only.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—CSF testing after a serum test has limited usefulness in the diagnosis of EPM. A CSF test alone might be used when CSF is required for other procedures. Ruling out other causes of neurologic disease reduces the necessity of additional EPM testing.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe the general seroprevalence of anti-Sarcocystis neurona and anti-Neospora hughesi antibodies among healthy equids by use of indirect fluorescent antibody tests and determine potential risk factors for seropositivity.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

SAMPLE Whole blood samples collected from 5,250 equids (1 sample/animal) across 18 states in the United States during October 2013.

PROCEDURES Information regarding potential risk factors (geographic region, breed, primary use, sex, and age) was collected along with the blood samples. For each equid, an indirect fluorescent antibody test was used to determine serum titers of antibody against each of the 2 protozoal parasites. Mixed-effects logistic regression models were created to determine ORs for seropositivity.

RESULTS The overall seroprevalence of anti-S neurona and anti-N hughesi antibodies in the tested equids was 78% and 34%, respectively. Of the equids, 31% were seropositive and 18% were seronegative for antibodies against both parasites. Factors associated with equids being seropositive for anti-S neurona antibodies were residence in the South, warmblood breed, and age > 5 years. Seroprevalence of anti-N hughesi antibodies did not differ among equids in different states across the country, but warmblood breed and age > 5 years were associated with seropositivity.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE With regard to risk factors for S neurona and N hughesi exposure and antibody response among tested equids, older age was not unexpected; however, the influences of warmblood breed and geographic location on seropositivity for anti-S neurona antibody but not for anti-N hughesi antibody deserve further investigation.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe cardiac lesions and identify risk factors associated with myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in beach-cast southern sea otters.

Animals—Free-ranging southern sea otters.

Procedure—Sea otters were necropsied at the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center from 1998 through 2001. Microscopic and gross necropsy findings were used to classify sea otters as myocarditis or DCM case otters or control otters. Univariate, multivariate, and spatial analytical techniques were used to evaluate associations among myocarditis; DCM; common sea otter pathogens; and potential infectious, toxic, and nutritional causes.

Results—Clusters of sea otters with myocarditis and DCM were identified in the southern aspect of the sea otter range from May to November 2000. Risk factors for myocarditis included age, good body condition, and exposure to domoic acid and Sarcocystis neurona. Myocarditis associated with domoic acid occurred predominantly in the southern part of the range, whereas myocarditis associated with S neurona occurred in the northern part of the range. Age and suspected previous exposure to domoic acid were identified as major risk factors for DCM. A sample of otters with DCM had significantly lower concentrations of myocardial L-carnitine than control and myocarditis case otters.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cardiac disease is an important cause of death in southern sea otters. Domoic acid toxicosis and infection with S neurona are likely to be 2 important causes of myocarditis in sea otters. Domoic acid–induced myocarditis appears to progress to DCM, and depletion of myocardial L-carnitine may play a key role in this pathogenesis. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:289–299)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To estimate the analytic sensitivity of microscopic detection of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts and the environmental loading of T gondii oocysts on the basis of prevalence of shedding by owned and unowned cats.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—326 fecal samples from cats.

Procedures—Fecal samples were collected from cat shelters, veterinary clinics, cat-owning households, and outdoor locations and tested via ZnSO4 fecal flotation.

Results—Only 3 (0.9%) samples of feces from 326 cats in the Morro Bay area of California contained T gondii–like oocysts. On the basis of the estimated tonnage of cat feces deposited outdoors in this area, the annual burden in the environment was estimated to be 94 to 4,671 oocysts/m2 (9 to 434 oocysts/ft2).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Despite the low prevalence and short duration of T gondii oocyst shedding by cats detected in the present and former surveys, the sheer numbers of oocysts shed by cats during initial infection could lead to substantial environmental contamination. Veterinarians may wish to make cat owners aware of the potential threats to human and wildlife health posed by cats permitted to defecate outdoors.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine gene transcription for cytokines in nucleated cells in CSF of horses without neurologic signs or with cervical stenotic myelopathy (CSM), West Nile virus (WNV) encephalitis, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), or spinal cord trauma.

Animals—41 horses (no neurologic signs [n = 12], CSM [8], WNV encephalitis [9], EPM [6], and spinal cord trauma [6]).

Procedures—Total RNA was extracted from nucleated cells and converted into cDNA. Gene expression was measured by use of real-time PCR assay and final quantitation via the comparative threshold cycle method.

Results—Cytokine genes expressed by nucleated cells of horses without neurologic signs comprised a balance between proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-10 and transforming growth factor [TGF]-β), and Th1 mediators (interferon [IFN]-γ). Cells of horses with CSM mainly expressed genes for TNF-α, TGF-β, and IL-10. Cells of horses with WNV encephalitis mainly expressed genes for IL-6 and TGF-β. Cells of horses with EPM mainly had expression of genes for IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α, IFN-γ, and TGF-β. Cells from horses with spinal cord trauma had expression mainly for IL-6; IFN-γ; TGF-β; and less frequently, IL-2, IL-10, and TNF-α. Interleukin-8 gene expression was only detected in CSF of horses with infectious diseases.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Despite the small number of CSF samples for each group, results suggest distinct gene signatures expressed by nucleated cells in the CSF of horses without neurologic signs versus horses with inflammatory or traumatic neurologic disorders.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To identify subclinical Babesia gibsoni infection in American Pit Bull Terriers from the southeastern United States and to determine the genetic sequence of parasite DNA isolated from these dogs.

Design—Case series.

Animals—33 American Pit Bull Terriers and 87 dogs of various other breeds.

Procedure—Blood smears were examined for microscopic evidence of the parasite, and DNA was extracted from blood samples and used in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay designed to amplify the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequence of B gibsoni. Amplification products of the expected size were sequenced, and sequences were compared with published sequences for B gibsoni isolates. Hematocrit, platelet count, mean platelet volume, WBC count, and eosinophil count were compared between dogs with positive PCR assay results and dogs with negative results.

Results—Results of the PCR assay were positive for 18 of the 33 (55%) American Pit Bull Terriers, including all 10 dogs with microscopic evidence of parasitemia. Only 1 of these dogs was clinically ill at the time blood samples were collected. Results of microscopic evaluation of blood smears and of the PCR assay were negative for the 87 other dogs. Hematocrit and platelet count were significantly lower in dogs with positive PCR assay results than in dogs with negative results.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that American Pit Bull Terriers in the southeastern United States may be subclinically infected with B gibsoni. However, subclinical infection was not identified in dogs of other breeds from the same geographic area. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220: 325–329)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objectives

To identify Sarcocystis neurona-specific DNA sequences in the nuclear small subunit ribosomal RNA (nss-rRNA) gene that could be used to distinguish S neurona from other closely related protozoal parasites, and to evaluate a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, using broad based primers and a unique species-specific probe on CSF for detection of S neurona in equids.

Procedures

Sequencing of the nuclear small subunit ribosomal RNA gene from a new S neurona isolate (UCD 1) was performed. The sequence was compared with that of other closely related Sarcocystidae parasites. From this sequence, conserved DNA sequence primers were selected and an oligonucleotide probe was designed to hybridize with a unique region of the S neurona gene. For clinical evaluation, horses were considered test positive for S neurona infection on the basis of immunohistochemical detection of the parasites in the CNS.

Results

Sensitivity of this PCR and probe-based detection system was approximately 1 to 5 merozoites. Cerebrospinal fluid from 2 of 5 horses with histologic lesions consistent with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis were PCR- and probe-positive in a blind test of this procedure, and all uninfected horses were test negative.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance

This PCR- based system is a useful method of confirming S neurona in CSF and has the advantage of facilitating detection of other apicomplexan protozoans that may be infective for horses. The usefulness of this test is limited by the presence of parasites free in the CSF of clinically affected horses. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:975–981)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research