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Cross-sectional survey on Tritrichomonas foetus infection in Italian cats

Veronesi, F., Gazzonis, A.L., Napoli, E., Brianti, E., Santoro, A., Zanzani, S.A., Olivieri, E., Diaferia, M., Giannetto, S., Pennisi, M.G., Manfredi, M.T.
Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports 2016 v.6 pp. 14-19
Dipylidium caninum, Giardia, Toxocara cati, Tritrichomonas foetus, breeding, cats, cross-sectional studies, diarrhea, factor analysis, feces, genotype, households, mixed infection, parasites, patients, polymerase chain reaction, purebreds, risk factors, Italy
The feline genotype of Tritrichomonas foetus is a widespread cause of large-bowel diarrhoea in cats. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of the T. foetus infection in cat populations across Italy.Fresh, individual faecal samples were collected from 267 cats, kept in different environments (i.e., private households, breeding structures, municipal catteries and colonies) in three different sites across Italy. The faecal samples were tested by PCR to detect T. foetus. Moreover, the same samples were subjected to a concentration-flotation technique and a commercial direct fluorescent-antibody (DFA) test to detect additional enteric parasites, including Giardia duodenalis.The overall prevalence of T. foetus infection was 5.2%. All the infected cats showed diarrhoea at the time of sampling: 9 out of 14 positive cats were co-infected with G. duodenalis, 1 with Toxocara cati and 3 with Dipylidium caninum. The risk factor analysis showed that not only the breed, but also co-infections with G. duodenalis and Dipylidium caninum were significantly associated with the presence of T. foetus. This study confirms the presence of T. foetus in cats living in Italy, suggesting that this protozoan parasite should always be included in the differential diagnosis of patients referred with large-bowel disease symptoms, especially if they were purebred animals, or affected by other enteric protozoa, such as G. duodenalis.