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Parasites of domestic owned cats in Europe: co-infestations and risk factors

Beugnet, Frédéric, Bourdeau, Patrick, Chalvet-Monfray, Karine, Cozma, Vasile, Farkas, Robert, Guillot, Jacques, Halos, Lénaïg, Joachim, Anja, Losson, Bertrand, Miró, Guadalupe, Otranto, Domenico, Renaud, Marine, Rinaldi, Laura
Parasites & vectors 2014 v.7 no.1 pp. 291
Otodectes cynotis, insecticides, parasitoses, Protozoa, multiparasitism, ectoparasites, feces, helminths, cats, risk factors, anthelmintics, Siphonaptera, Toxocara cati, pets, microscopy, surveys, regression analysis, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Spain
BACKGROUND: Domestic cats can be infested by a large range of parasite species. Parasitic infestations may cause very different clinical signs. Endoparasites and ectoparasites are rarely explored in the same study and therefore multiparasitism is poorly documented. The present survey aimed to improve knowledge of the prevalence and risk factors associated with ecto- and endoparasite infestations in owned cats in Europe. METHODS: From March 2012 to May 2013, 1519 owned cats were included in a multicenter study conducted in 9 veterinary faculties throughout Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Spain). For each cat, ectoparasites were checked by combing of the coat surface associated with otoscopic evaluation and microscopy on cerumen samples. Endoparasites were identified by standard coproscopical examinations performed on fresh faecal samples. Risk factors and their influence on parasitism were evaluated by univariate analysis followed by a multivariate statistical analysis (including center of examination, age, outdoor access, multipet status, and frequency of treatments as main criteria) with logistic regression models. RESULTS: Overall, 50.7% of cats resulted positive for at least one internal or one external parasite species. Ectoparasites were found in 29.6% of cats (CI₉₅ 27.3-32.0%). Otodectes cynotis was the most frequently identified species (17.4%), followed by fleas (15.5%). Endoparasites were identified in 35.1% of the cats (CI₉₅ 32.7-35.7%), including gastro-intestinal helminths in 25.7% (CI₉₅ 23.5-28.0), respiratory nematodes in 5.5% (CI₉₅ 4.2-7.0%) and protozoans in 13.5% (CI₉₅ 11.8-15.3%). Toxocara cati was the most commonly diagnosed endoparasite (19.7%, CI₉₅ 17.8-21.8%). Co-infestation with endoparasites and ectoparasites was found in 14.0% of the cats, and 11.9% harbored both ectoparasites and gastro-intestinal helminths. Age, outdoor access, living with other pets, and anthelmintic or insecticide treatments were significantly associated with the prevalence of various parasites. CONCLUSIONS: This survey demonstrates that parasitism is not a rare event in European owned cat populations. The prevalence of multi-parasitism is significantly greater than expected by chance and hence there is tendency for some individual cats to be more prone to infestation by both endo- and ectoparasites due to common risk factors.