Objective—To determine whether infection with Tritrichomonas foetus causes diarrhea in specific pathogen-free or Cryptosporidium coinfected cats.
Animals—4 cats with subclinical cryptosporidiosis (group 1) and 4 specific-pathogen-free cats (group 2).
Procedure—Cats were infected orogastrically with an axenic culture of T foetus isolated from a kitten with diarrhea. Direct microscopy and protozoal culture of feces, fecal character, serial colonic mucosal biopsy specimens, and response to treatment with nitazoxanide (NTZ; group 1) or prednisolone (groups 1 and 2) were assessed.
Results—Infection with T foetus persisted in all cats for the entire 203-day study and resulted in diarrhea that resolved after 7 weeks. Group-1 cats had an earlier onset, more severe diarrhea, and increased number of trichomonads on direct fecal examination, compared with group-2 cats. Use of NTZ eliminated shedding of T foetus and Cryptosporidium oocysts, but diarrhea consisting of trichomonad-containing feces recurred when treatment was discontinued. Prednisolone did not have an effect on infection with T foetus but resulted in reappearance of Cryptosporidium oocysts in the feces of 2 of 4 cats. During necropsy, T foetus was isolated from contents of the ileum, cecum, and colon. Tritrichomonas foetus organisms and antigen were detected on surface epithelia and within superficial detritus of the cecal and colonic mucosa.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—After experimental inoculation in cats, T foetus organisms colonize the ileum, cecum, and colon, reside in close contact with the epithelium, and are associated with transient diarrhea that is exacerbated by coexisting cryptosporidiosis but not treatment with prednisolone. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1690–1697)