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Abstract

Objective—To analyze the 7a7b genes of the feline coronavirus (FCoV) of cheetahs, which are believed to play a role in virulence of this virus.

Sample Population—Biologic samples collected during a 4-year period from 5 cheetahs at the same institution and at 1 time point from 4 cheetahs at different institutions.

Procedures—Samples were first screened for FCoV via a reverse transcription-PCR procedure involving primers that encompassed the 3′-untranslated region. Samples that yielded positive assay results were analyzed by use of primers that targeted the 7a7b open reading frames. The nucleotide sequences of the 7a7b amplification products were determined and analyzed.

Results—In most isolates, substantial deletional mutations in the 7a gene were detected that would result in aberrant or no expression of the 7a product because of altered reading frames. Although the 7b gene was also found to contain mutations, these were primarily point mutations resulting in minor amino acid changes. The coronavirus associated with 1 cheetah with feline infectious peritonitis had intact 7a and 7b genes.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The data suggest that mutations arise readily in the 7a region and may remain stable in FCoV of cheetahs. In contrast, an intact 7b gene may be necessary for in vivo virus infection and replication. Persistent infection with FCoV in a cheetah population results in continued virus circulation and may lead to a quasispecies of virus variants.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

CASE DESCRIPTION Within a 2-week period, 4 southern cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius) at an exhibit at a Virginia zoo died acutely subsequent to eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) infection. This prompted a search for other EEEV outbreaks in cassowaries, which resulted in the identification of 2 additional cassowaries that died of EEEV infection at a conservation center in Florida.

CLINICAL FINDINGS Both juvenile and adult birds were affected. Three of the 6 birds died acutely with no premonitory signs. Clinical disease in the other 3 birds was characterized by lethargy and ataxia. Clinicopathologic findings typically included leukocytosis, hyperuricemia, abnormally high liver enzyme activities, and hyper–β globulinemia, which was indicative of acute inflammation.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME The 3 birds with clinical disease died despite supportive treatment. Gross abnormalities commonly observed during necropsy included coelomitis and evidence of diarrhea. Frequently observed histologic abnormalities were encephalitis, vasculitis, hepatitis, nephritis, and splenitis. The diagnosis of EEEV infection was confirmed by detection of serum anti-EEEV antibodies or detection of viral RNA in brain tissue by use of a reverse-transcriptase PCR assay.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings suggested that EEEV can cause high morbidity and mortality rates in southern cassowaries. Clinical disease might be reduced or prevented by vaccination, isolation of ill birds, and mosquito control strategies.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine ECG and echocardiographic measurements in healthy anesthetized Grevy's zebras (Equus grevyi).

Animals—20 healthy zebras.

Procedures—Auscultation, base-apex ECG, and echocardiography were performed on anesthetized zebras.

Results—Low-grade systolic murmurs were detected in the left basilar region in 4 of 20 zebras. Evaluation of ECGs from 19 zebras revealed sinus rhythm with a predominantly negative QRS complex and a mean ± SD heart rate of 67 ± 10 beats/min. Echocardiograms of sufficient image quality were obtained for 16 zebras. Interventricular septal thickness in diastole, left ventricular chamber in diastole and systole, left atrial diameter, and left ventricular mass were significantly and moderately correlated with estimated body weight (r values ranged from 0.650 to 0.884). Detectable swirling of blood in the right and sometimes the left ventricles was detected in 9 of 16 zebras, whereas physiologic regurgitation of blood was detected for the aortic valve in 3 zebras, pulmonary valve in 2 zebras, mitral valve in 2 zebras, and tricuspid valve in 1 zebra.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this study provide reference information for use in the cardiac evaluation of anesthetized Grevy's zebras.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To establish a reference interval for glomerular filtration rate (GFR) determined by measuring serum clearance of a single IV dose of inulin in clinically normal cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and compare serum symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) concentration in cheetahs with GFR.

ANIMALS

33 cheetahs housed at 3 institutions.

PROCEDURES

A single bolus of inulin (3,000 mg/m2) was administered IV, and 5 serial blood samples were collected and analyzed for serum inulin concentration with the anthrone technique. The GFR was estimated with a modified slope-intercept method for the slow component of the serum concentration-versus-time curve. Blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine concentrations were measured in samples obtained immediately prior to inulin administration, and serum SDMA concentration was measured in stored samples.

RESULTS

Mean ± SD measured GFR was 1.58 ± 0.39 mL/min/kg, and the calculated reference interval was 0.84 to 2.37 mL/min/kg. There were significant negative correlations between GFR and serum creatinine concentration (r = −0.499), BUN concentration (r = −0.592), and age (r = −0.463). Serum SDMA concentration was not significantly correlated with GFR (r = 0.385), BUN concentration (r = −0.281), or serum creatinine concentration (r = 0.165).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

A reference interval for GFR in clinically normal cheetahs was obtained. Further evaluation of animals with renal disease is needed to determine whether measuring serum clearance of a single IV dose of inulin is a reliable diagnostic test for early detection of renal disease in cheetahs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the incidence of and risk factors for clinical feline herpesvirus (FHV) infection in zoo-housed cheetahs and determine whether dam infection was associated with offspring infection.

DESIGN Retrospective cohort study.

ANIMALS 144 cheetah cubs born in 6 zoos from 1988 through 2007.

PROCEDURES Data were extracted from the health records of cheetahs and their dams to identify incident cases of clinical FHV infection and estimate incidence from birth to 18 months of age. Univariate and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models, controlling for correlations among cheetahs with the same dam, were used to identify risk factors for incident FHV infection.

RESULTS Cumulative incidence of FHV infection in cheetah cubs was 35% (50/144). No significant association between dam and offspring infection was identified in any model. Factors identified as significant through multivariable analysis varied by age group. For cheetahs up to 3 months of age, the most important predictor of FHV infection was having a dam that had received a preparturition FHV vaccine regimen that included a modified-live virus vaccine versus a dam that had received no preparturition vaccine. Other risk factors included being from a small litter, being born to a primiparous dam, and male sex.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE This study provided the first population-level characterization of the incidence of and risk factors for FHV infection in cheetahs, and findings confirmed the importance of this disease. Recognition that clinical FHV infection in the dam was not a significant predictor of disease in cubs and identification of other significant factors have implications for disease management.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association