Severe sepsis in cats: 29 cases (1986–1998)

Colleen A. Brady Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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 DVM
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Cindy M. Otto Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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 DVM, PhD, DACVECC
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Thomas J. Van Winkle Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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 VMD, DACVP
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Lesley G. King Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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 MVB, DACVECC, DACVIM

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Abstract

Objective—To document the clinical, clinicopathologic, and pathologic findings in cats with severe sepsis, identify abnormalities unique to this species, and identify criteria that could be used antemortem to diagnose the systemic inflammatory response syndrome in cats.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—29 cats confirmed to have severe sepsis at necropsy.

Procedure—Pertinent history, physical examination findings, and results of hematologic and biochemical testing were extracted from medical records.

Results—Clinical diagnoses included pyothorax, septic peritonitis, bacteremia secondary to gastrointestinal tract disease, pneumonia, endocarditis, pyelonephritis, osteomyelitis, pyometra, and bite wounds. Physical examination findings included lethargy, pale mucous membranes, poor pulse quality, tachypnea, hypo- or hyperthermia, signs of diffuse pain on abdominal palpation, bradycardia, and icterus. Clinicopathologic abnormalities included anemia, thrombocytopenia, band neutrophilia, hypoalbuminemia, low serum alkaline phosphatase activity, and hyperbilirubinemia. Necropsy findings included multiorgan necrosis or inflammation with intralesional bacteria.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that severe sepsis in cats is characterized by lethargy, pale mucous membranes, signs of diffuse abdominal pain, tachypnea, bradycardia, weak pulses, anemia, hypoalbuminemia, hypothermia, and icterus. Recognition of this combination of clinical findings should facilitate the diagnosis of severe sepsis in cats. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:531–535)

Abstract

Objective—To document the clinical, clinicopathologic, and pathologic findings in cats with severe sepsis, identify abnormalities unique to this species, and identify criteria that could be used antemortem to diagnose the systemic inflammatory response syndrome in cats.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—29 cats confirmed to have severe sepsis at necropsy.

Procedure—Pertinent history, physical examination findings, and results of hematologic and biochemical testing were extracted from medical records.

Results—Clinical diagnoses included pyothorax, septic peritonitis, bacteremia secondary to gastrointestinal tract disease, pneumonia, endocarditis, pyelonephritis, osteomyelitis, pyometra, and bite wounds. Physical examination findings included lethargy, pale mucous membranes, poor pulse quality, tachypnea, hypo- or hyperthermia, signs of diffuse pain on abdominal palpation, bradycardia, and icterus. Clinicopathologic abnormalities included anemia, thrombocytopenia, band neutrophilia, hypoalbuminemia, low serum alkaline phosphatase activity, and hyperbilirubinemia. Necropsy findings included multiorgan necrosis or inflammation with intralesional bacteria.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that severe sepsis in cats is characterized by lethargy, pale mucous membranes, signs of diffuse abdominal pain, tachypnea, bradycardia, weak pulses, anemia, hypoalbuminemia, hypothermia, and icterus. Recognition of this combination of clinical findings should facilitate the diagnosis of severe sepsis in cats. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:531–535)

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