Feline Respiratory Disease Background Feline herpesvirus(FHV) is an important cause of ocular and upper respiratory tract (URT) disease in cats. A typical α-herpesvirus, the virus establishes a latent infection in virtually all infected cats. Latently infected cats are difficult to diagnose as they shed low levels of virus for a short time following a stress event. Latently infected cats are an important source of infection for other cats. Feline calicivirus (FCV) causes URT and oral disease in cats; oral ulceration is a typical feature. The virus is shed for prolonged periods following infection (≥30 days in most cats) and a proportion of infected cats become persistent shedders. Cats can be categorised as high, medium or low level shedders; low shedders may require repeat swabbing to be detected. FCV is not a primary conjunctival pathogen. Chlamydophila felis is typically associated with conjunctivitis, particularly in cats <1 year of age. Additional URT signs can occur but are not common. Bordetella bronchiseptica is a primary pathogen in cats and is associated with an array of clinical signs ranging from URT signs to bronchopneumonia. Diagnosis Virus Isolation (VI) is the gold standard for FHV and FCV diagnosis. This method detects viable virus. Samples are inoculated onto tissue culture cells which are monitored over 4 days for the development of characteristic cytopathic effects (CPE). FCV outgrows FHV in tissue culture, which means it is rarely possible to detect both FHV and FCV in a single sample. Therefore, if a sample is FCV positive, this does not necessarily mean it is FHV negative.In our laboratory, over 25% of FCV- positive samples are also FHV-positive. PCR is the only method to detect FHV in FCV-positive samples.
PCR is used in our laboratory to detect FHV and C. felis. PCR is more sensitive than VI for FHV diagnosis: our FHV PCR test detects nearly three times as many FHV-positive samples as VI. PCR detects viral DNA and not necessarily viable virus.
Bacterial Culture: nasal swabs or tracheal washes submitted in bacterial transport medium are cultured on selective medium for Bordetella bronchiseptica isolation. Treatment FHV: Supportive therapy. L-lysine orally can reduce shedding rate in latently infected cats. Feline interferon (IFN) -ω is effective in vitro but no controlled in vivo studies have been published. FCV: Supportive therapy. Feline IFN-ω has been shown to be effective in vitro but no controlled clinical studies that demonstrate in vivo efficacy are available. Chlamydophila felis: Doxycycline has been shown to be effective against C. felis and may require a prolonged 4 week course to eliminate infection. All cats in the household should be treated. Care should be taken with the use of tetracyclines in pregnant cats and young kittens. Amoxycillin- clavulanate treatment for 4 weeks is also effective.
Bordetella bronchiseptica: Tetracyclines, particularly doxycycline, are the preferred treatment for Bordetellosis (but should not be used in pregnant cats or young kittens). Veterinary Diagnostic Services
School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, United Kingdom
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