Submitted to: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2004
Publication Date: 4/15/2004
Citation: Nutter, F.B., Dubey, J.P., Levine, J.F., Breitschwerdt, E.B., Ford, R.B., Stoskopf, M.K. 2004. Prevalence of potentially zoonotic pathogens in feral and pet domestic cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 225(9):1394-1398. Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled organism that causes mental retardation in children and abortion in livestock. Cats are the only reservoir host for it because they excrete a resistant stage of the parasite in their feces. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and North Carolina State University found Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in 63% of fecal and 39% of pet cats in North Carolina. The results will be of interest to biologists, public health workers, parasitologists and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Objective: To compare the prevalences of Bartonella henselae, Toxoplasma gondii, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Toxocara cati in populations of feral and pet domestic cats. Design: Prospective cross-sectional serologic and coprologic survey Animals: 100 feral cats and 76 pet domestic cats from Randolph County, North Carolina. Results: Serologic or microscopic evidence of potential zoonoses were detected in blood and fecal samples respectively from feral and pet domestic cats, and included B.. henselae (93.0% feral, 75.0% pet), T. gondii (63.0% feral, 34.2% pet), Cryptosporidium spp. (6.8% feral, 6.0% pet), Giardia spp. (5.7% feral, 4.5% pet), and T. cati (20.7% feral, 18.2% pet). The prevalence of antibodies to B. henselae and T. gondii was significantly higher in feral cats, but there was no difference in the prevalence of fecal parasitism between the two populations. Complete blood count and serum chemistry values, were similar for feral and pet domestic cats, but feral cats had a lower median PCV and higher median neutrophil count.