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Clinicopathologic and radiographic features and etiologic agents in cats with histologically confirmed infectious pneumonia: 39 cases (1991–2000)

Ellen S. Macdonald DVM, DACVIM1,2, Carol R. Norris DVM, DACVIM3, Roy B. Berghaus DVM, MS4, and Stephen M. Griffey DVM, PhD5
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  • 1 Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.
  • | 2 Present address is the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-4544.
  • | 3 Departments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.
  • | 4 Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.
  • | 5 Departments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinicopathologic and radiographic features and etiologic agents in cats that died as a result of infectious pneumonia.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—39 cats.

Procedure—Medical records of cats in which infectious pneumonia was confirmed by histologic examination of necropsy specimens were reviewed. Signalment, clinical signs, and results of a CBC, viral serologic tests, and thoracic radiography were evaluated. Infectious agents were classified as bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal, or parasitic. Histologic features (severity, duration, anatomic location, and distribution) were analyzed.

Results—Clinical signs referable to the respiratory tract were not detected in 14 of 39 (36%) cats, and results of a CBC (4/18 cats) and radiography (3/13) were unremarkable. Sixteen of 39 (41%) cats lacked clinical signs of systemic illness. Etiologic agents identified included bacteria (n = 21), viruses (11), fungi (6), protozoa (2), and parasites (1). Cats with clinical signs related to the respiratory tract (19/24 [79%] cats) were more likely to have severe histologic changes than cats without signs related to the respiratory system (6/14). Twenty-nine of 38 (76%) cats had histologic evidence of systemic disease, whereas the remaining cats had lesions limited to the respiratory tract.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Infectious pneumonia is uncommon in cats. Cats with infectious pneumonia may lack clinical signs and have unremarkable results for a CBC and thoracic radiography, yet frequently have systemic infections. Therefore, clinicians should maintain an index of suspicion for pneumonia and evaluate the respiratory tract when infection is detected in other organ systems. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1142–1150)

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinicopathologic and radiographic features and etiologic agents in cats that died as a result of infectious pneumonia.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—39 cats.

Procedure—Medical records of cats in which infectious pneumonia was confirmed by histologic examination of necropsy specimens were reviewed. Signalment, clinical signs, and results of a CBC, viral serologic tests, and thoracic radiography were evaluated. Infectious agents were classified as bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal, or parasitic. Histologic features (severity, duration, anatomic location, and distribution) were analyzed.

Results—Clinical signs referable to the respiratory tract were not detected in 14 of 39 (36%) cats, and results of a CBC (4/18 cats) and radiography (3/13) were unremarkable. Sixteen of 39 (41%) cats lacked clinical signs of systemic illness. Etiologic agents identified included bacteria (n = 21), viruses (11), fungi (6), protozoa (2), and parasites (1). Cats with clinical signs related to the respiratory tract (19/24 [79%] cats) were more likely to have severe histologic changes than cats without signs related to the respiratory system (6/14). Twenty-nine of 38 (76%) cats had histologic evidence of systemic disease, whereas the remaining cats had lesions limited to the respiratory tract.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Infectious pneumonia is uncommon in cats. Cats with infectious pneumonia may lack clinical signs and have unremarkable results for a CBC and thoracic radiography, yet frequently have systemic infections. Therefore, clinicians should maintain an index of suspicion for pneumonia and evaluate the respiratory tract when infection is detected in other organ systems. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1142–1150)