Publications by authors named "Regina Hofmann-Lehmann"

212 Publications

First molecular evidence of Mycoplasma haemocanis and 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum' infections and its association with epidemiological factors in dogs from Cuba.

Acta Trop 2022 Jan 18:106320. Epub 2022 Jan 18.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Haemotrophic mycoplasmas (haemoplasmas) are unculturable, epicellular, cell wall-less gram-negative bacteria distributed worldwide, which infect several mammalian species. In dogs, Mycoplasma haemocanis and 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum' have been reported as causative agents of infectious anaemia, especially in splenectomised or immunocompromised animals. The present cross-sectional study aims to assess the prevalence, risk factors, and molecular characterization of canine haemoplasmas in Cuba. A total of 391 dog blood samples and 247 tick samples were tested for the presence of canine haemoplasmas by species-specific quantitative TaqMan® real-time PCR assays. Overall, 17.9% (70/391; 95% CI: 14.1-21.7) blood samples were PCR-positive for at least one canine haemoplasmas species, where 15.1% (59/391; 95% CI: 11.5-18.7) for Mycoplasma haemocanis, 4.4% (17/391; 95% CI: 2.3-6.4) for 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum', and 1.5% (6/391; 95% CI: 0.3-2.8) were co-infected. All collected ticks were identified morphologically as Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato, and none of the tested tick samples was found PCR-positive for the presence of Mycoplasma haemocanis and 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum'. Risk factors for canine haemoplasmas species infection included the presence of tick infestation, crossbreeding and living in kennels, while no association was found with the occurrence of anaemia. Phylogenetic analyses based on the 16S rRNA gene sequences of Mycoplasma haemocanis and 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum' revealed >99% identity to other isolates distributed worldwide, indicating low genetic variability amongst these canine haemoplasmas species. To the best of the authors´ knowledge, this is the first molecular evidence of Mycoplasma haemocanis and 'Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum' infections in dogs from Cuba.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2022.106320DOI Listing
January 2022

Cytauxzoon europaeus infections in domestic cats in Switzerland and in European wildcats in France: a tale that started more than two decades ago.

Parasit Vectors 2022 Jan 8;15(1):19. Epub 2022 Jan 8.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Cytauxzoon spp. infection is believed to be a newly emerging tick-borne disease in felids in Europe, with three species of the haemoparasite having recently been differentiated in wild felids. In Switzerland, rare infections have been documented in domestic cats in the west and northwest of the country, the first of which was in 2014. The aims of the present study were: (i) to characterize a Cytauxzoon spp. hotspot in domestic cats in central Switzerland; (ii) to elucidate the geographic distribution of Cytauxzoon spp. in domestic cats in Switzerland; (iii) to assess suspected high-risk populations, such as stray and anaemic cats; and (iv) to investigate the newly emerging nature of the infection. Cytauxzoon spp. were further differentiated using mitochondrial gene sequencing.

Methods: The overall study included samples from 13 cats from two households in central Switzerland (study A), 881 cats from all regions of Switzerland (study B), 91 stray cats from a hotspot region in the northwest of Switzerland and 501 anaemic cats from across Switzerland (study C), and 65 Swiss domestic cats sampled in 2003 and 34 European wildcats from eastern France sampled in the period 1995-1996 (study D). The samples were analysed for Cytauxzoon spp. using real-time TaqMan quantitative PCR, and positive samples were subjected to 18S rRNA, cytochrome b (CytB) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene sequencing.

Results: In study A, six of 13 cats from two neighbouring households in central Switzerland tested postive for Cytauxzoon spp.; two of the six infected cats died from bacterial infections. In studies B and C, only one of the 881 cats (0.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0-0.3%) in the countrywide survey and one of the 501 anaemic cats (0.2%; 95% CI: 0-0.6%) tested postive for Cytauxzoon spp. while eight of the 91 stray cats in the northwest of Switzerland tested positive (8.8%; 95% CI: 3.0-14.6%). In study D, Cytauxzoon spp. was detected in one of the 65 domestic cat samples from 2003 (1.5%; 95% CI: 0-4.5%) and in ten of the 34 European wildcat samples from 1995 to 1996 (29%; 95% CI: 14.2-44.7%). The isolates showed ≥ 98.6% sequence identities among the 18S rRNA, CytB and COI genes, respectively, and fell in the subclade Cytauxzoon europaeus based on CytB and COI gene phylogenetic analyses.

Conclusions: The study challenges the newly emerging nature of Cytauxzoon spp. in central Europe and confirms that isolates from domestic cats in Switzerland and European wild felids belong to the same species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-021-05111-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8742954PMC
January 2022

Curing Cats with Feline Infectious Peritonitis with an Oral Multi-Component Drug Containing GS-441524.

Viruses 2021 11 5;13(11). Epub 2021 Nov 5.

Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany.

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) caused by feline coronavirus (FCoV) is a common dis-ease in cats, fatal if untreated, and no effective treatment is currently legally available. The aim of this study was to evaluate efficacy and toxicity of the multi-component drug Xraphconn in vitro and as oral treatment in cats with spontaneous FIP by examining survival rate, development of clinical and laboratory parameters, viral loads, anti-FCoV antibodies, and adverse effects. Mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance identified GS-441524 as an active component of Xraphconn. Eighteen cats with FIP were prospectively followed up while being treated orally for 84 days. Values of key parameters on each examination day were compared to values before treatment initiation using linear mixed-effect models. Xraphconn displayed high virucidal activity in cell culture. All cats recovered with dramatic improvement of clinical and laboratory parameters and massive reduction in viral loads within the first few days of treatment without serious adverse effects. Oral treatment with Xraphconn containing GS-441524 was highly effective for FIP without causing serious adverse effects. This drug is an excellent option for the oral treatment of FIP and should be trialed as potential effective treatment option for other severe coronavirus-associated diseases across species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13112228DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8621566PMC
November 2021

Investigation on haplotypes of ixodid ticks and retrospective finding of Borrelia miyamotoi in bank vole (Myodes glareolus) in Switzerland.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2022 Jan 3;13(1):101865. Epub 2021 Nov 3.

Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Clinical Laboratory, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The current status of tick species, important tick-borne bacteria and protozoan parasites is well-documented in Switzerland. However, reports on the genetic diversity and geographical relationships of tick species in this country appear to be in part lacking or outdated. Thus, the aim of this study was to collect ticks from various host species in southern Switzerland, to compare them in a geographical context and to screen in these samples rare tick-borne pathogens hitherto not reported or having low prevalence in Switzerland. In 2019-2020 altogether 177 ixodid ticks were collected from the vegetation, as well as from humans (n = 17), dogs (n = 23), cats (n = 41), red deer (n = 8), a European rabbit and a European hedgehog at 25 locations in three cantons of south Switzerland. Tick species were identified morphologically, followed by DNA extraction and comparison of mitochondrial haplotypes with molecular-phylogenetic methods. Tick DNA extracts, as well as sixty-two rodent liver or spleen tissue DNA extracts (representing six species) available from 2005 to 2006 were screened for trypanosomes, Occidentia massiliensis and Borrelia miyamotoi. Morphologically, three tick species were identified: Ixodes ricinus (n = 170), Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (n = 6) and I. hexagonus (n = 1). In contrast to companion animals (dogs, cats) immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) predominated on humans, which was a highly significant association (P < 0.0001). Molecular comparison of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (cox1) gene with GenBank data established the species as R. sanguineus sensu stricto and confirmed I. hexagonus, both showing 99.8-100% sequence identity to conspecific ticks from northern Italy. Seventy-nine specimens morphologically identified as I. ricinus revealed high 16S rRNA gene haplotype diversity and represented two phylogenetic groups. Two I. ricinus haplotypes from Switzerland belonged to the same haplogroup with I. inopinatus from Spain, Germany and Austria as well as with I. ricinus reported from a broad geographical range of Europe (including Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia and Sweden). All 141 tick DNA extracts (from five R. sanguineus s.l., 135 I. ricinus and one I. hexagonus) and 62 rodent tissue DNA extracts were negative for trypanosomes and O. massiliensis. However, B. miyamotoi was identified in a bank vole (Myodes glareolus) and three ticks by sequencing. From Switzerland, this is the first report of tick haplotypes that are phylogenetically closely related to I. inopinatus. However, based on their morphology, both specimens are considered as I. ricinus. These results highlight the importance that the identification of I. inopinatus should be based on coherent morphologic and molecular properties. This is also the first report of rodent-borne B. miyamotoi in Switzerland. Taking into account the year of collection (2005), in a chronological order this might be the first indication of B. miyamotoi in any rodent species in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2021.101865DOI Listing
January 2022

Management of Suspected Cases of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in Eurasian Lynx () During an International Translocation Program.

Front Vet Sci 2021 25;8:730874. Epub 2021 Oct 25.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The Eurasian lynx () population in Switzerland serves as a source for reintroductions in neighboring countries. In 2016-2017, three lynx from the same geographical area were found seropositive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) in the framework of an international translocation program. This novel finding raised questions about the virus origin and pathogenicity to lynx, the emerging character of the infection, and the interpretation of serological results in other lynx caught for translocation. Archived serum samples from 84 lynx captured in 2001-2016 were retrospectively tested for FIV antibodies by Western blot. All archived samples were FIV-negative. The three seropositive lynx were monitored in quarantine enclosures prior to euthanasia and necropsy. They showed disease signs, pathological findings, and occurrence of co-infections reminding of those described in FIV-infected domestic cats. All attempts to isolate and characterize the virus failed but serological data and spatiotemporal proximity of the cases suggested emergence of a lentivirus with antigenic and pathogenic similarities to FIV in the Swiss lynx population. A decision scheme was developed to minimize potential health risks posed by FIV infection, both in the recipient and source lynx populations, considering conservation goals, animal welfare, and the limited action range resulting from local human conflicts. Development and implementation of a cautious decision scheme was particularly challenging because FIV pathogenic potential in lynx was unclear, negative FIV serological results obtained within the first weeks after infection are unpredictable, and neither euthanasia nor repatriation of multiple lynx was acceptable options. The proposed scheme distinguished between three scenarios: release at the capture site, translocation, or euthanasia. Until April 2021, none of the 40 lynx newly captured in Switzerland tested FIV-seropositive. Altogether, seropositivity to FIV was documented in none of 124 lynx tested at their first capture, but three of them seroconverted in 2016-2017. Diagnosis of FIV infection in the three seropositive lynx remains uncertain, but clinical observations and pathological findings confirmed that euthanasia was appropriate. Our experiences underline the necessity to include FIV in pathogen screenings of free-ranging European wild felids, the importance of lynx health monitoring, and the usefulness of health protocols in wildlife translocation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.730874DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8573149PMC
October 2021

Modified-Live Feline Calicivirus Vaccination Elicits Cellular Immunity against a Current Feline Calicivirus Field Strain in an Experimental Feline Challenge Study.

Viruses 2021 08 31;13(9). Epub 2021 Aug 31.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a common cat virus associated with oral ulcerations and virulent-systemic disease. Efficacious FCV vaccines protect against severe disease but not against infection. The high genetic diversity of FCV poses a challenge in vaccine design. Protection against FCV has been related to humoral and cellular immunity; the latter has not been studied in detail. This study investigates the cellular and humoral immune response of specified pathogen-free (SPF) cats after modified-live FCV F9 vaccinations and two heterologous FCV challenges by the analysis of lymphocyte subsets, cytokine mRNA transcription levels, interferon (IFN)-γ release assays in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), anti-FCV antibodies, and neutralisation activity. Vaccinated cats developed a Th1 cytokine response after vaccination. Vaccination resulted in antibodies with neutralising activity against the vaccine but not the challenge viruses. Remarkably, IFN-γ-releasing PBMCs were detected in vaccinated cats upon stimulation with the vaccine strain and the first heterologous FCV challenge strain. After the first experimental infection, the mRNA transcription levels of perforin, granzyme B, INF-γ, and antiviral factor MX1 and the number of IFN-γ-releasing PBMCs when stimulated with the first challenge virus were higher in vaccinated cats compared to control cats. The first FCV challenge induced crossneutralising antibodies in all cats against the second challenge virus. Before the second challenge, vaccinated cats had a higher number of IFN-γ-releasing PBMCs when stimulated with the second challenge virus than control cats. After the second FCV challenge, there were less significant differences detected between the groups regarding lymphocyte subsets and cytokine mRNA transcription levels. In conclusion, modified-live FCV vaccination induced cellular but not humoral crossimmunity in SPF cats; innate immune mechanisms, secretory and membranolytic pathways, and IFN-γ-releasing PBMCs seem to be important in the host immune defence against FCV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13091736DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8473420PMC
August 2021

Adeno-Associated Vector-Delivered CRISPR/Cas9 System Reduces Feline Leukemia Virus Production In Vitro.

Viruses 2021 08 18;13(8). Epub 2021 Aug 18.

Clinical Laboratory, Center for Clinical Studies, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus of cats worldwide. High viral loads are associated with progressive infection and the death of the host, due to FeLV-associated disease. In contrast, low viral loads, an effective immune response, and a better clinical outcome can be observed in cats with regressive infection. We hypothesize that by lowering viral loads in progressively infected cats, using CRISPR/Cas9-assisted gene therapy, the cat's immune system may be permitted to direct the infection towards a regressive outcome. In a step towards this goal, the present study evaluates different adeno-associated vectors (AAVs) for their competence in delivering a gene editing system into feline cells, followed by investigations of the CRISPR/Cas9 targeting efficiency for different sites within the FeLV provirus. Nine natural AAV serotypes, two AAV hybrid strains, and Anc80L65, an in silico predicted AAV ancestor, were tested for their potential to infect different feline cell lines and feline primary cells. AAV-DJ revealed superior infection efficiency and was thus employed in subsequent transduction experiments. The introduction of double-strand breaks, using the CRISPR/Cas9 system targeting 12 selected FeLV provirus sites, was confirmed by T7 endonuclease 1 (T7E1), as well as Tracking of Indels by Decomposition (TIDE) analysis. The highest percentage (up to 80%) of nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) was found in the highly conserved and regions. Subsequent transduction experiments, using AAV-DJ, confirmed indel formation and showed a significant reduction in FeLV p27 antigen for some targets. The targeting of the FeLV provirus was efficient when using the CRISPR/Cas9 approach in vitro. Whether the observed extent of provirus targeting will be sufficient to provide progressively FeLV-infected cats with the means to overcome the infection needs to be further investigated in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13081636DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8402633PMC
August 2021

Modified-Live Feline Calicivirus Vaccination Reduces Viral RNA Loads, Duration of RNAemia, and the Severity of Clinical Signs after Heterologous Feline Calicivirus Challenge.

Viruses 2021 07 30;13(8). Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a common cat virus causing clinical signs such as oral ulcerations, fever, reduced general condition, pneumonia, limping and occasionally virulent-systemic disease. Efficacious FCV vaccines protect against severe disease but not against infection. FCV is a highly mutagenic RNA virus whose high genetic diversity poses a challenge in vaccine design. The use of only one modified-live FCV strain over several decades might have driven the viral evolution towards more vaccine-resistant variants. The present study investigated the clinical signs, duration, and amount of FCV shedding, RNAemia, haematological changes and acute phase protein reaction in SPF cats after subcutaneous modified-live single strain FCV vaccination or placebo injection and two subsequent oronasal heterologous FCV challenge infections with two different field strains. Neither clinical signs nor FCV shedding from the oropharynx and FCV RNAemia were detected after vaccination. After the first experimental infection, vaccinated cats had significantly lower clinical scores, less increased body temperature and lower acute phase protein levels than control cats. The viral RNA loads from the oropharynx and duration and amount of RNAemia were significantly lower in the vaccinated animals. No clinical signs were observed in any of the cats after the second experimental infection. In conclusion, FCV vaccination was beneficial for protecting cats from severe clinical signs, reducing viral loads and inflammation after FCV challenge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13081505DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8402717PMC
July 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Dogs and Cats from Southern Germany and Northern Italy during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Viruses 2021 07 26;13(8). Epub 2021 Jul 26.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected millions of people globally since its first detection in late 2019. Besides humans, cats and, to some extent, dogs were shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the need for surveillance in a One Health context. Seven veterinary clinics from regions with high incidences of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were recruited during the early pandemic (March to July 2020) for the screening of patients. A total of 2257 oropharyngeal and nasal swab specimen from 877 dogs and 260 cats (including 18 animals from COVID-19-affected households and 92 animals with signs of respiratory disease) were analyzed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA using reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) targeting the viral envelope (E) and RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) genes. One oropharyngeal swab from an Italian cat, living in a COVID-19-affected household in Piedmont, tested positive in RT-qPCR (1/260; 0.38%, 95% CI: 0.01-2.1%), and SARS-CoV-2 infection of the animal was serologically confirmed six months later. One oropharyngeal swab from a dog was potentially positive (1/877; 0.1%, 95% CI: 0.002-0.63%), but the result was not confirmed in a reference laboratory. Analyses of convenience sera from 118 animals identified one dog (1/94; 1.1%; 95% CI: 0.02-5.7%) from Lombardy, but no cats (0/24), as positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies and neutralizing activity. These findings support the hypothesis that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pet cat and dog populations, and hence, the risk of zoonotic transmission to veterinary staff, was low during the first wave of the pandemic, even in hotspot areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13081453DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8402904PMC
July 2021

Influenza Virus Infections in Cats.

Viruses 2021 07 23;13(8). Epub 2021 Jul 23.

MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK.

In the past, cats were considered resistant to influenza. Today, we know that they are susceptible to some influenza A viruses (IAVs) originating in other species. Usually, the outcome is only subclinical infection or a mild fever. However, outbreaks of feline disease caused by canine H3N2 IAV with fever, tachypnoea, sneezing, coughing, dyspnoea and lethargy are occasionally noted in shelters. In one such outbreak, the morbidity rate was 100% and the mortality rate was 40%. Recently, avian H7N2 IAV infection occurred in cats in some shelters in the USA, inducing mostly mild respiratory disease. Furthermore, cats are susceptible to experimental infection with the human H3N2 IAV that caused the pandemic in 1968. Several studies indicated that cats worldwide could be infected by H1N1 IAV during the subsequent human pandemic in 2009. In one shelter, severe cases with fatalities were noted. Finally, the highly pathogenic avian H5N1 IAV can induce a severe, fatal disease in cats, and can spread via cat-to-cat contact. In this review, the Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD), a scientifically independent board of experts in feline medicine from 11 European countries, summarises current data regarding the aetiology, epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical picture, diagnostics, and control of feline IAV infections, as well as the zoonotic risks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13081435DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8402716PMC
July 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Antibody Response in a Symptomatic Cat from Italy with Intestinal B-Cell Lymphoma.

Viruses 2021 03 23;13(3). Epub 2021 Mar 23.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was first identified in early 2020, rare cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in pet cats have been reported worldwide. Some reports of cats with SARS-CoV-2 showed self-limiting respiratory or gastrointestinal disease after suspected human-to-feline transmission via close contact with humans with SARS-CoV-2. In the present study, we investigated a cat with SARS-CoV-2 that was presented to a private animal clinic in Northern Italy in May 2020 in a weak clinical condition due to an underlying intestinal B-cell lymphoma. The cat developed signs of respiratory tract disease, including a sneeze, a cough and ocular discharge, three days after an oropharyngeal swab tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA using two real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assays for the envelope () and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase () gene. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA was detectable prior to the onset of clinical signs. Five and six months after positive molecular results, the serological testing substantiated the presence of a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the cat with the detection of anti-SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) immunoglobulin (IgG) antibodies and neutralizing activity in a surrogate virus neutralization assay (sVNT). To the best of our knowledge, this extends the known duration of seropositivity of SARS-CoV-2 in a cat. Our study provides further evidence that cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and strengthens the assumption that comorbidities may play a role in the development of clinical disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13030527DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004793PMC
March 2021

Detection and Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in a Domestic Cat with Respiratory Signs in Switzerland.

Viruses 2021 03 17;13(3). Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Clinical Laboratory, Vetsuisse Faculty, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Since the emergence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in late 2019, domestic cats have been demonstrated to be susceptible to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) under natural and experimental conditions. As pet cats often live in very close contact with their owners, it is essential to investigate SARS-CoV-2 infections in cats in a One-Health context. This study reports the first SARS-CoV-2 infection in a cat in a COVID-19-affected household in Switzerland. The cat (Cat 1) demonstrated signs of an upper respiratory tract infection, including sneezing, inappetence, and apathy, while the cohabiting cat (Cat 2) remained asymptomatic. Nasal, oral, fecal, fur, and environmental swab samples were collected twice from both cats and analyzed by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. Both nasal swabs from Cat 1 tested positive. In addition, the first oral swab from Cat 2 and fur and bedding swabs from both cats were RT-qPCR positive. The fecal swabs tested negative. The infection of Cat 1 was confirmed by positive SARS-CoV-2 S1 receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody testing and neutralizing activity in a surrogate assay. The viral genome sequence from Cat 1, obtained by next generation sequencing, showed the closest relation to a human sequence from the B.1.1.39 lineage, with one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) difference. This study demonstrates not only SARS-CoV-2 infection of a cat from a COVID-19-affected household but also contamination of the cats' fur and bed with viral RNA. Our results are important to create awareness that SARS-CoV-2 infected people should observe hygienic measures to avoid infection and contamination of animal cohabitants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13030496DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8002591PMC
March 2021

Anti-SU Antibody Responses in Client-Owned Cats Following Vaccination against Feline Leukaemia Virus with Two Inactivated Whole-Virus Vaccines (Fel-O-Vax Lv-K and Fel-O-Vax 5).

Viruses 2021 02 3;13(2). Epub 2021 Feb 3.

MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Garscube Campus, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK.

A field study undertaken in Australia compared the antibody responses induced in client-owned cats that had been vaccinated using two inactivated whole feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) vaccines, the monovalent vaccine Fel-O-Vax Lv-K and the polyvalent vaccine Fel-O-Vax 5. Serum samples from 428 FeLV-uninfected cats (118 FeLV-vaccinated and 310 FeLV-unvaccinated) were tested for anti-FeLV neutralising antibodies (NAb) using a live virus neutralisation assay to identify 378 FeLV-unexposed (NAb-negative) and 50 FeLV-exposed (NAb-positive; abortive infections) cats, following by anti-surface unit (SU) FeLV-A and FeLV-B antibody ELISA testing. An additional 42 FeLV-infected cats (28 presumptively regressively infected, 14 presumptively progressively infected) were also tested for anti-SU antibodies. NAb-positive cats displayed significantly higher anti-SU antibody ELISA responses compared to NAb-negative cats ( < 0.001). FeLV-unexposed cats (NAb-negative) that had been vaccinated less than 18 months after a previous FeLV vaccination using the monovalent vaccine (Fel-O-Vax Lv-K) displayed higher anti-SU antibody ELISA responses than a comparable group vaccinated with the polyvalent vaccine (Fel-O-Vax 5) ( < 0.001 for both anti-FeLV-A and FeLV-B SU antibody responses). This difference in anti-SU antibody responses between cats vaccinated with the monovalent or polyvalent vaccine, however, was not observed in cats that had been naturally exposed to FeLV (NAb-positive) ( = 0.33). It was postulated that vaccination with Fel-O-Vax 5 primed the humoral response prior to FeLV exposure, such that antibody production increased when the animal was challenged, while vaccination with Fel-O-Vax Lv-K induced an immediate preparatory antibody response that did not quantitatively increase after FeLV exposure. These results raise questions about the comparable vaccine efficacy of the different FeLV vaccine formulations and correlates of protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13020240DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7913631PMC
February 2021

Anthropogenic Infection of Cats during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.

Viruses 2021 01 26;13(2). Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Institute of Virology, Department for Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, 1210 Vienna, Austria.

COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by a new coronavirus (CoV), SARS-CoV-2, which is closely related to SARS-CoV that jumped the animal-human species barrier and caused a disease outbreak in 2003. SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus that was first described in 2019, unrelated to the commonly occurring feline coronavirus (FCoV) that is an alphacoronavirus associated with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious and has spread globally within a few months, resulting in the current pandemic. Felids have been shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Particularly in the Western world, many people live in very close contact with their pet cats, and natural infections of cats in COVID-19-positive households have been described in several countries. In this review, the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD), a scientifically independent board of experts in feline medicine from 11 European Countries, discusses the current status of SARS-CoV infections in cats. The review examines the host range of SARS-CoV-2 and human-to-animal transmissions, including infections in domestic and non-domestic felids, as well as mink-to-human/-cat transmission. It summarises current data on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in domestic cats and the results of experimental infections of cats and provides expert opinions on the clinical relevance and prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection in cats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13020185DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7911697PMC
January 2021

Broad Range Screening of Vector-Borne Pathogens in Arctic Foxes () in Iceland.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Nov 4;10(11). Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Department of Wildlife Diseases, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, 10315 Berlin, Germany.

The arctic fox () is the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland. While red foxes () are known to be epidemiologically important carriers of several vector-borne pathogens in Europe, arctic foxes have never been evaluated in a similar context on this continent. This has become especially relevant in the last decade, considering the establishing populations of the tick species in Iceland. In this study, liver DNA extracts of 60 arctic foxes, hunted between 2011-2012, were molecularly screened for vector-borne protozoan parasites (, , , ) and bacteria (, , , , hemotropic ). One sample was real-time qPCR positive for , though this positivity could not be confirmed with sequencing. Samples were negative for all other tested vector-borne pathogens. Results of this study indicate that, except for , Icelandic arctic foxes were apparently "not yet infected" with vector-borne pathogens in 2011-2012, or their infections were "below the detection limit" of applied methods. Taking into account the broad range of target microorganisms analyzed here, as well as the warming climate and increasing presence of the vector in Iceland, our results will be very useful as baseline data for comparison in future monitoring of the emergence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in this country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10112031DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7694187PMC
November 2020

Molecular Diagnosis, Prevalence and Importance of Zoonotic Vector-Borne Pathogens in Cuban Shelter Dogs-A Preliminary Study.

Pathogens 2020 Oct 28;9(11). Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

The present study aimed to determine the prevalence of zoonotic vector-borne pathogens, including , , sensu lato, and spp. in shelter dogs from Cuba. Blood samples were collected from 100 shelter dogs and examined by molecular methods. Overall, 85 (85%; 95% CI: 77.88-92.12) dogs tested positive for at least one vector-borne pathogen using species-specific qPCR assays. Among the positive samples, was the most prevalent 62% (95% CI: 52.32-71.68), followed by 40% (95% CI: 30.23-49.77) and 27% (95% CI: 18.15-35.85), whereas 36% (95% CI: 26.43-45.57) showed co-infections. All samples were negative for and s.l. The presence of 248 ticks collected from the dogs was not statistically associated with the occurrence of infections. Thrombocytopenia was the most frequent haematological alteration found in PCR-positive dogs; it was statistically associated with the presence of , as well as co-infections ( < 0.05). The phylogenetic analyses of and based on rRNA, and genes showed a low genetic diversity between Cuban strains. The present study demonstrates the high prevalence of vector-borne pathogens with zoonotic potential in shelter dogs from Cuba.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9110901DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7692765PMC
October 2020

infection in cats: European guidelines from the ABCD on prevention and management.

J Feline Med Surg 2020 11;22(11):1084-1088

European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases www.abcdcatsvets.org.

Overview: is a common obligate intracellular microsporidian parasite of rabbits that is increasingly recognised as a pathogen of cats and other mammalian species. These guidelines aim to review the literature on feline infection and provide recommendations on prevention and management.

Infection In Cats: infection should be considered as a differential diagnosis in cases of feline uveitis and cataract formation. It is not significantly associated with either chronic kidney disease or meningoencephalitis. E infection is more common in stray or feral cats than in pet cats.

Diagnosis And Treatment: Serological tests for antibody detection in the blood are easy to perform and can be useful for diagnosis, but their specificity is low as antibodies have been found in apparently healthy cats. PCR appears to be more sensitive than histopathology for diagnosis, and is more sensitive when performed on cataractous lenses compared with aqueous humour, although ease of sampling is an obvious limitation. Treatment is with fenbendazole for 3 weeks and phacoemulsification to remove microsporidia from cataractous lenses.

Zoonotic Risk: E is a potential zoonotic agent, and there is a particular risk to immunocompromised humans posed by infected rabbits. Albeit infrequent, spore shedding has been identified in cats, so care should be taken around infected cats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098612X20941787DOI Listing
November 2020

Molecular detection and characterization of Hepatozoon canis in stray dogs from Cuba.

Parasitol Int 2021 Feb 25;80:102200. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA), Carretera de Tapaste y Autopista Nacional, Apartado postal 10, 32700 San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Electronic address:

Canine hepatozoonosis caused by Hepatozoon canis is a worldwide distributed tick-borne disease of domestic and wild canids that is transmitted by ingestion of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (s.l.) ticks. The present study was aimed to determine the prevalence of Hepatozoon infections in 80 stray dogs from Havana Province in Cuba, and to confirm the species identity and phylogenetic relationships of the causative agent. Samples were screened by microscopical examination of thin blood smears for the presence of Hepatozoon spp. gamonts and by genus-specific SYBR green-based real-time PCR assay targeting the 18S rRNA gene. Direct microscopy examination revealed Hepatozoon gamonts in the peripheral blood of 8 dogs (10.0%; 95% CI: 4.80-18.0%), while 38 animals (47.5%; 95% CI: 36.8-58.4%) were PCR-positive, including all microscopically positive dogs. Hence, the agreement between the two detection methods was 'poor' (κ = 0.20). Hematological parameters did not differ significantly between PCR-positive and PCR-negative dogs (p > 0.05). The DNA sequences of the 18S rRNA gene of the Hepatozoon spp. from Cuban dogs showed a nucleotide identity >99% with those of 18S rRNA sequences of Hepatozoon canis isolates from Czech Republic, Brazil and Spain. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that obtained sequences clustered within the Hepatozoon canis clade, different from the Hepatozoon felis or Hepatozoon americanum clades. The present study represents the first molecular characterization of Hepatozoon canis in stray dogs within Cuba.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parint.2020.102200DOI Listing
February 2021

Prevalence of Feline Coronavirus Shedding in German Catteries and Associated Risk Factors.

Viruses 2020 09 8;12(9). Epub 2020 Sep 8.

Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich, Veterinaerstrasse 13, 80539 Munich, Germany.

The aim of this prospective study was to determine prevalence and potential risk factors of feline coronavirus (FCoV) shedding. Four consecutive fecal samples of 179 cats from 37 German breeding catteries were analyzed for FCoV ribonucleic acid (RNA) by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Prevalence of shedding was calculated using different numbers of fecal samples per cat (1-4) and different sampling intervals (5-28 days). Information on potential risk factors for FCoV shedding was obtained by a questionnaire. Risk factor analysis was performed using a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM). Most cats (137/179, 76.5%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 69.8-82.2) shed FCoV at least at once. None of the tested 37 catteries was free of FCoV. Prevalence calculated including all four (76.5%, 95% CI 69.8-82.2) or the last three (73.7%, 95% CI 66.8-79.7) samples per cat was significantly higher than the prevalence calculated with only the last sample (61.5%, 95% CI 54.2-68.3; = 0.0029 and 0.0175, respectively). Young age was significantly associated with FCoV shedding while the other factors were not. For identification of FCoV shedders in multi-cat households, at least three fecal samples per cat should be analyzed. Young age is the most important risk factor for FCoV shedding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12091000DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7551668PMC
September 2020

Feline leukaemia virus infection: A practical approach to diagnosis.

J Feline Med Surg 2020 09;22(9):831-846

Prof, Dr med vet, Dr habil, Dip ECVIM-CA (Internal Medicine) Professor of Internal Medicine, Head of Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich, Germany.

Practical Relevance: Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus of domestic cats worldwide. Cats lacking strong FeLV-specific immunity and undergoing progressive infection commonly develop fatal FeLV-associated disease. Many aspects of FeLV infection pathogenesis have been elucidated, some during more recent years using molecular techniques. It is recommended that the FeLV status of every cat is known, since FeLV infection can influence the prognosis and clinical management of every sick cat. Moreover, knowledge of a cat's FeLV status is of epidemiological importance to prevent further spread of the infection.

Clinical Challenges: Diagnosing FeLV infection remains challenging due to different outcomes of infection, which can vary over time depending on the balance between the virus and the host's immune system. Furthermore, testing for FeLV infection has become more refined over the years and now includes diagnostic assays for different viral and immunological parameters. Knowledge of FeLV infection pathogenesis, as well as the particulars of FeLV detection methods, is an important prerequisite for correct interpretation of any test results and accurate determination of a cat's FeLV status.

Aims: The current review presents recent knowledge on FeLV pathogenesis, key features to be determined in FeLV infection, and frequently used FeLV detection methods, and their characteristics and interpretation. An algorithm for the diagnosis of FeLV infection in a single cat, developed by the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases, is included, and FeLV testing in specific situations is addressed. As well as increasing awareness of this deadly infection in domestic cats, the aim is to contribute diagnostic expertise to allow veterinarians in practice to improve their recognition, and further reduce the prevalence, of FeLV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098612X20941785DOI Listing
September 2020

FCoV Viral Sequences of Systemically Infected Healthy Cats Lack Gene Mutations Previously Linked to the Development of FIP.

Pathogens 2020 Jul 24;9(8). Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, CH 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)-the deadliest infectious disease of young cats in shelters or catteries-is induced by highly virulent feline coronaviruses (FCoVs) emerging in infected hosts after mutations of less virulent FCoVs. Previous studies have shown that some mutations in the open reading frames (ORF) 3c and 7b and the spike (S) gene have implications for the development of FIP, but mainly indirectly, likely also due to their association with systemic spread. The aim of the present study was to determine whether FCoV detected in organs of experimentally FCoV infected healthy cats carry some of these mutations. Viral RNA isolated from different tissues of seven asymptomatic cats infected with the field strains FCoV Zu1 or FCoV Zu3 was sequenced. Deletions in the 3c gene and mutations in the 7b and S genes that have been shown to have implications for the development of FIP were not detected, suggesting that these are not essential for systemic viral dissemination. However, deletions and single nucleotide polymorphisms leading to truncations were detected in all nonstructural proteins. These were found across all analyzed ORFs, but with significantly higher frequency in ORF 7b than ORF 3a. Additionally, a previously unknown homologous recombination site was detected in FCoV Zu1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9080603DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7459962PMC
July 2020

Correlation of Feline Coronavirus Shedding in Feces with Coronavirus Antibody Titer.

Pathogens 2020 Jul 22;9(8). Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich, Veterinaerstrasse 13, 80539 Munich, Germany.

Background: Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection is ubiquitous in multi-cat households. Responsible for the continuous presence are cats that are chronically shedding a high load of FCoV. The aim of the study was to determine a possible correlation between FCoV antibody titer and frequency and load of fecal FCoV shedding in cats from catteries.

Methods: Four fecal samples from each of 82 cats originating from 19 German catteries were examined for FCoV viral loads by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Additionally, antibody titers were determined by an immunofluorescence assay.

Results: Cats with antibodies were more likely to be FCoV shedders than non-shedders, and there was a weak positive correlation between antibody titer and mean fecal virus load (Spearman = 0.2984; = 0.0072). Antibody titers were significantly higher if cats shed FCoV more frequently throughout the study period ( = 0.0063). When analyzing only FCoV shedders, cats that were RT-qPCR-positive in all four samples had significantly higher antibody titers ( = 0.0014) and significantly higher mean fecal virus loads ( = 0.0475) than cats that were RT-qPCR-positive in only one, two, or three samples.

Conclusions: The cats' antibody titers correlate with the likelihood and frequency of FCoV shedding and fecal virus load. Chronic shedders have higher antibody titers and shed more virus. This knowledge is important for the management of FCoV infections in multi-cat environments, but the results indicate that antibody measurement cannot replace fecal RT-qPCR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9080598DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7459802PMC
July 2020

What's New in Feline Leukemia Virus Infection.

Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2020 Sep 14;50(5):1013-1036. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

Clinical Laboratory, Department for Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, Zurich 8057, Switzerland.

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus with global impact on the health of domestic cats that causes tumors (mainly lymphoma), bone marrow disorders, and immunosuppression. The importance of FeLV is underestimated due to complacency associated with previous decline in prevalence. However, with this comes lowered vigilance, which, along with potential for regressively infected cats to reactivate viremia and shed the virus or develop clinical signs, can pose a risk to feline health. This article summarizes knowledge on FeLV pathogenesis, courses of infection, and factors affecting prevalance, infection outcome, and development of FeLV-associated diseases, with special focus on regressive FeLV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cvsm.2020.05.006DOI Listing
September 2020

Prevalence and phylogeny of Chlamydiae and hemotropic mycoplasma species in captive and free-living bats.

BMC Microbiol 2020 06 26;20(1):182. Epub 2020 Jun 26.

Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Bats are hosts for a variety of microorganisms, however, little is known about the presence of Chlamydiales and hemotropic mycoplasmas. This study investigated 475 captive and free-living bats from Switzerland, Germany, and Costa Rica for Chlamydiales and hemotropic mycoplasmas by PCR to determine the prevalence and phylogeny of these organisms.

Results: Screening for Chlamydiales resulted in a total prevalence of 31.4%. Positive samples originated from captive and free-living bats from all three countries. Sequencing of 15 samples allowed the detection of two phylogenetically distinct groups. These groups share sequence identities to Chlamydiaceae, and to Chlamydia-like organisms including Rhabdochlamydiaceae and unclassified Chlamydiales from environmental samples, respectively. PCR analysis for the presence of hemotropic mycoplasmas resulted in a total prevalence of 0.7%, comprising free-living bats from Germany and Costa Rica. Phylogenetic analysis revealed three sequences related to other unidentified mycoplasmas found in vampire bats and Chilean bats.

Conclusions: Bats can harbor Chlamydiales and hemotropic mycoplasmas and the newly described sequences in this study indicate that the diversity of these bacteria in bats is much larger than previously thought. Both, Chlamydiales and hemotropic mycoplasmas are not restricted to certain bat species or countries and captive and free-living bats can be colonized. In conclusion, bats represent another potential host or vector for novel, previously unidentified, Chlamydiales and hemotropic mycoplasmas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12866-020-01872-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318495PMC
June 2020

Treatment with Class A CpG Oligodeoxynucleotides in Cats with Naturally Occurring Feline Parvovirus Infection: A Prospective Study.

Viruses 2020 06 12;12(6). Epub 2020 Jun 12.

AniCura Istituto Veterinario di Novara, Strada Provinciale 9, 28060 Granozzo con Monticello (NO), Italy.

Feline parvovirus (FPV) causes severe gastroenteritis and leukopenia in cats; the outcome is poor. Information regarding specific treatments is lacking. Class A CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-A) are short single-stranded DNAs, stimulating type I interferon production. In cats, CpG-A induced an antiviral response in vivo and inhibited FPV replication in vitro. The aim was to prospectively investigate the effects of CpG-A on survival, clinical score, hematological findings, antiviral response (cytokines), viremia, and fecal shedding (real-time qPCR) in cats naturally infected with FPV. Forty-two FPV-infected cats were randomized to receive 100 µg/kg of CpG-A ( = 22) or placebo ( = 20) subcutaneously, on admission and after 48 h. Blood and fecal samples were collected on admission, after 1, 3, and 7 days. All 22 cats showed short duration pain during CpG-A injections. The survival rate, clinical score, leukocyte and erythrocyte counts, viremia, and fecal shedding at any time-point did not differ between cats treated with CpG-A (50%) and placebo (40%). Antiviral myxovirus resistance () gene transcription increased in both groups from day 1 to 3 ( = 0.005). Antibodies against FPV on admission were associated with survival in cats ( = 0.002). In conclusion, CpG-A treatment did not improve the outcome in cats with FPV infection. FPV infection produced an antiviral response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12060640DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7354499PMC
June 2020

Dirofilarioses in cats: European guidelines from the ABCD on prevention and management.

J Feline Med Surg 2020 05;22(5):442-451

European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases www.abcdcatsvets.org.

Overview: and the most important filarial worms, causing heartworm disease and subcutaneous dirofilariosis, respectively. is currently considered an emerging zoonotic agent in Europe.

Life Cycle And Infection: Filarial worms infect mainly dogs, but also cats, ferrets, wild carnivores and humans. The life cycle involves an intermediate mosquito host. Compared with dogs, cats are imperfect hosts for dirofilarial worms. After inoculation, only a low number of L3 larvae develop to the adult stage in a small percentage of cats. Heartworm disease in cats may be associated with severe pulmonary thromboembolism and an eosinophilic inflammatory response in the lungs, potentially leading to sudden death. Otherwise self-cure occurs in most cases after 18-48 months. Subcutaneous dirofilariosis may present as subcutaneous nodules or dermatitis.

Diagnosis And Treatment: Diagnosis in cats is more difficult compared with dogs and needs a multistep approach (antigen and antibody tests, as well as diagnostic imaging). Cats with acute heartworm disease require stabilisation within an intensive care unit. Cats with respiratory signs or suggestive radiographic changes should receive prednisolone and follow-up with a similar multistep approach. Adulticidal therapy is not safe in cats.

Prevention: In endemic areas cats should receive year-round chemoprophylaxis from 2 months of age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098612X20917601DOI Listing
May 2020

Bayesian Network Modeling Applied to Feline Calicivirus Infection Among Cats in Switzerland.

Front Vet Sci 2020 26;7:73. Epub 2020 Feb 26.

Section of Epidemiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Bayesian network (BN) modeling is a rich and flexible analytical framework capable of elucidating complex veterinary epidemiological data. It is a graphical modeling technique that enables the visual presentation of multi-dimensional results while retaining statistical rigor in population-level inference. Using previously published case study data about feline calicivirus (FCV) and other respiratory pathogens in cats in Switzerland, a full BN modeling analysis is presented. The analysis shows that reducing the group size and vaccinating animals are the two actionable factors directly associated with FCV status and are primary targets to control FCV infection. The presence of gingivostomatitis and is also associated with FCV status, but signs of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) are not. FCV data is particularly well-suited to a network modeling approach, as both multiple pathogens and multiple clinical signs per pathogen are involved, along with multiple potentially interrelated risk factors. BN modeling is a holistic approach-all variables of interest may be mutually interdependent-which may help to address issues, such as confounding and collinear factors, as well as to disentangle directly vs. indirectly related variables. We introduce the BN methodology as an alternative to the classical uni- and multivariable regression approaches commonly used for risk factor analyses. We advise and guide researchers about how to use BNs as an exploratory data tool and demonstrate the limitations and practical issues. We present a step-by-step case study using FCV data along with all code necessary to reproduce our analyses in the open-source R environment. We compare and contrast the findings of the current case study using BN modeling with previous results that used classical regression techniques, and we highlight new potential insights. Finally, we discuss advanced methods, such as Bayesian model averaging, a common way of accounting for model uncertainty in a Bayesian network context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00073DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7055399PMC
February 2020

2020 AAFP Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines.

J Feline Med Surg 2020 01;22(1):5-30

Charing Cross Cat Clinic, Brantford, ON, Canada.

Clinical Importance: Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infections are found in cats worldwide. Both infections are associated with a variety of clinical signs and can impact quality of life and longevity.

Scope: This document is an update of the 2008 American Association of Feline Practitioners' feline retrovirus management guidelines and represents current knowledge on pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of retrovirus infections in cats.

Testing And Interpretation: Although vaccines are available for FeLV in many countries and for FIV in some countries, identification of infected cats remains an important factor for preventing new infections. The retrovirus status of every cat at risk of infection should be known. Cats should be tested as soon as possible after they are acquired, following exposure to an infected cat or a cat of unknown infection status, prior to vaccination against FeLV or FIV, and whenever clinical illness occurs. It might not be possible to determine a cat's infection status based on testing at a single point in time; repeat testing using different methods could be required. Although FeLV and FIV infections can be associated with clinical disease, some infected cats, especially those infected with FIV, can live for many years with good quality of life.

Management Of Infected Cats: There is a paucity of data evaluating treatments for infected cats, especially antiretroviral and immunomodulatory drugs. Management of infected cats is focused on effective preventive healthcare strategies, and prompt identification and treatment of illness, as well as limiting the spread of infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098612X19895940DOI Listing
January 2020

Development and application of a multiplex TaqMan® real-time qPCR assay for the simultaneous detection of Anaplasma marginale and Theileria annulata and molecular characterization of Anaplasma marginale from cattle in Western Cuba.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2020 03 16;11(2):101356. Epub 2019 Dec 16.

Centro Nacional De Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA), Carretera De Tapaste y Autopista Nacional, Apartado Postal 10, 32700 San José De Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Electronic address:

Anaplasmosis and theileriosis are considered the most important tick-borne diseases for livestock production worldwide, causing significant economic losses in tropical and subtropical regions. The present study was aimed to develop a multiplex TaqMan® qPCR assay to simultaneously detect Anaplasma marginale and Theileria annulata and to applied it to investigate naturally infected cattle in Cuba. The assay was highly specific, sensible, and efficient; it was more sensitive than a well-established nested PCR and detected 1 DNA copy of each target. Consistent repeatability and reproducibility within and between multiplex qPCR runs was shown. A total of 223 blood samples collected in western Cuba were analyzed for haemoparasites infection in cattle. The multiplex qPCR assay detected A. marginale in 213 samples (95.5%; CI: 95%; 91.9%-97.5%), but all samples were negative for T. annulata. Additionally, the genetic diversity of A. marginale was assessed using 16S rRNA, MSP1a and MSP4 nucleotide and protein sequences. The MSP1a tandem repeats ranged from three to five, and twelve different MSP1a tandem repeats of A. marginale were found, which presented genotypes C, E, and G in the 5'UTR microsatellite region. Phylogenetic analysis using the msp4 gene showed that Cuban strains were closely related to others previously reported in Mexico, Brazil and Asian countries. The multiplex qPCR described here proved to be a rapid, specific and cost-effective mean for the simultaneous detection of A. marginale and T. annulata. Further epidemiological studies using this assay will improve the surveillance of the associated diseases in regions where they are endemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2019.101356DOI Listing
March 2020

Fatal acute babesiosis associated with Babesia venatorum infection (Babesia sp. EU1) in a captive reindeer calf in Switzerland.

Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports 2019 12 10;18:100336. Epub 2019 Sep 10.

Clinical Laboratory, Department for Clinical Diagnostics and Services, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Babesia venatorum was isolated from a captive reindeer calf in Switzerland. The clinical signs consistent with acute babesiosis included hemolytic anemia and hemoglobinuria. The diagnosis was made based on visualization of intraerythrocytic parasites in the stained blood smears and confirmed by PCR analysis of the 18S rRNA gene, with subsequent species identification within Babesia confirmed by sequencing. The reindeer calf was initially treated with supportive care and an antiprotozoal drug (imidocarb dipropionate) but died a few days after hospitalization. Babesia venatorum is also known as Babesia sp. EU1 and can infect different mammalian species, including humans. The current case report aims to increase awareness among veterinarians and reindeer owners about the presence and the associated risk of this zoonotic pathogen. Considering the high morbidity and possible mortality associated with acute babesiosis, captive reindeer should receive tick prevention measures and be tested for subclinical infections in endemic area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vprsr.2019.100336DOI Listing
December 2019
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