Prevalence of Dirofilaria immitis infection among shelter cats

Michael Hermesmeyer Michael Hermesmeyer, PC Veterinary Practice, 5252 Yankee Rd, St Clair, MI 48079.

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Robyn K. Limberg-Child Michael Hermesmeyer, PC Veterinary Practice, 5252 Yankee Rd, St Clair, MI 48079.

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Alice J. Murphy Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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Linda S. Mansfield Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of Dirofilaria immitis infection among shelter cats.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—239 cats euthanatized at an animal shelter in southeastern Michigan.

Procedure—A gross necropsy focusing on the thoracic cavity, heart, lungs, and pulmonary vessels was performed within 5 hours after cats were euthanatized. Blood was collected directly from the heart of cats found to be infected and tested, using a filter test for microfilariae. Serum was tested for D immitis antigens by use of 2 antigen detection kits and for D immitis-specific antibodies by use of 2 antibody detection kits.

Results—Cats ranged from approximately 4 months to 15 years old. Adult D immitis were found in 6 (2.5%) cats. Blood could not be recovered from 1 of the cats with heartworm infection. For the 5 other cats, results of the filter test were negative, and results of both antigen and both antibody tests were positive.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that cats living in an urban area in the northern part of the United States have a low prevalence of adult D immitis infection. However, this is likely to be an underestimate of the true prevalence of infection, because no attempts were made to identify cats infected with larval or juvenile stages of D immitis. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:211–212)

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of Dirofilaria immitis infection among shelter cats.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—239 cats euthanatized at an animal shelter in southeastern Michigan.

Procedure—A gross necropsy focusing on the thoracic cavity, heart, lungs, and pulmonary vessels was performed within 5 hours after cats were euthanatized. Blood was collected directly from the heart of cats found to be infected and tested, using a filter test for microfilariae. Serum was tested for D immitis antigens by use of 2 antigen detection kits and for D immitis-specific antibodies by use of 2 antibody detection kits.

Results—Cats ranged from approximately 4 months to 15 years old. Adult D immitis were found in 6 (2.5%) cats. Blood could not be recovered from 1 of the cats with heartworm infection. For the 5 other cats, results of the filter test were negative, and results of both antigen and both antibody tests were positive.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that cats living in an urban area in the northern part of the United States have a low prevalence of adult D immitis infection. However, this is likely to be an underestimate of the true prevalence of infection, because no attempts were made to identify cats infected with larval or juvenile stages of D immitis. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:211–212)

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