OBJECTIVE To determine the seroprevalence of heartworm infection, risk factors for seropositivity, and frequency of prescribing heartworm preventives for cats.
DESIGN Prospective cross-sectional study.
ANIMALS 34,975 cats from 1,353 veterinary clinics (n = 26,707) and 125 animal shelters (8,268) in the United States and Canada.
PROCEDURES Blood samples were collected from all cats and tested with a point-of-care ELISA for Dirofilaria immitis antigen, FeLV antigen, and FIV antibody. Results were compared among geographic regions and various cat groupings.
RESULTS Seropositivity for heartworm antigen in cats was identified in 35 states but not in Canada; overall seroprevalence in the United States was 0.4%. Seroprevalence of heartworm infection was highest in the southern United States. A 3-fold increase in the proportion of seropositive cats was identified for those with (vs without) outdoor access, and a 2.5-fold increase was identified for cats that were unhealthy (vs healthy) when tested. Seroprevalence was 0.3% in healthy cats, 0.7% in cats with oral disease, 0.9% in cats with abscesses or bite wounds, and 1.0% in cats with respiratory disease. Coinfection with a retrovirus increased the risk of heartworm infection. Heartworm preventives were prescribed for only 12.6% of cats at testing, and prescribing was more common in regions with a higher seroprevalence.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE At an estimated prevalence of 0.4%, hundreds of thousands of cats in the United States are likely infected with heartworms. Given the difficulty in diagnosing infection at all clinically relevant parasite stages and lack of curative treatment options, efforts should be increased to ensure all cats receive heartworm preventives.
OBJECTIVE To estimate seroprevalences for FeLV antigen and anti-FIV antibody and risk factors for seropositivity among cats in the United States and Canada.
DESIGN Cross-sectional study.
ANIMALS 62,301 cats tested at 1,396 veterinary clinics (n = 45,406) and 127 animal shelters (16,895).
PROCEDURES Blood samples were tested with a point-of-care ELISA for FeLV antigen and anti-FIV antibody. Seroprevalence was estimated, and risk factors for seropositivity were evaluated with bivariate and multivariable mixed-model logistic regression analyses adjusted for within-clinic or within-shelter dependencies.
RESULTS Overall, seroprevalence was 3.1% for FeLV antigen and 3.6% for anti-FIV antibody. Adult age, outdoor access, clinical disease, and being a sexually intact male were risk factors for seropositivity for each virus. Odds of seropositivity for each virus were greater for cats tested in clinics than for those tested in shelters. Of 1,611 cats with oral disease, 76 (4.7%) and 157 (9.7%) were seropositive for FeLV and FIV, respectively. Of 4,835 cats with respiratory disease, 385 (8.0%) were seropositive for FeLV and 308 (6.4%) were seropositive for FIV. Of 1,983 cats with abscesses or bite wounds, 110 (5.5%) and 247 (12.5%) were seropositive for FeLV and FIV, respectively. Overall, 2,368 of 17,041 (13.9%) unhealthy cats were seropositive for either or both viruses, compared with 1,621 of 45,260 (3.6%) healthy cats.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Seroprevalences for FeLV antigen and anti-FIV antibody were similar to those reported in previous studies over the past decade. Taken together, these results indicated a need to improve compliance with existing guidelines for management of feline retroviruses.