Prevalence of upper respiratory pathogens in four management models for unowned cats in the Southeast United States

  • McManus C
  • Levy J
  • Andersen L
 et al. 
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Abstract

Upper respiratory infection (URI) is a pervasive problem in cats and impacts the capacity and cost of sheltering programs. This study determined the pattern of respiratory pathogens in cats with and without clinical signs of URI in four different models for managing unowned cats, namely, (1) short-term animal shelters (STS), (2) long-term sanctuaries (LTS), (3) home-based foster care programs (FCP), and (4) trap-neuter-return programs for community cats (TNR). Conjunctival and oropharyngeal swabs from 543 cats, approximately half of which showed clinical signs of URI, were tested for feline herpes virus-1 (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), Chlamydia felis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma felis, and canine influenza virus by real-time PCR.FHV (59%, 41%) and B. bronchiseptica (33%, 24%) were more prevalent in both clinically affected and nonclinical cats, respectively, in STS than other management models. FCV (67%, 51%) and M. felis (84%, 86%) were more prevalent in LTS than any other management model. Clinically affected cats in FCP were more likely to carry FHV (23%, 6%), C. felis (24%, 10%), or M. felis (58%, 38%) than were nonclinical cats. Clinically affected cats in TNR were more likely to carry FCV (55%, 36%) or C. felis (23%, 4%) than were nonclinical cats. The prevalence of individual pathogens varied between different management models, but the majority of the cats in each model carried one or more respiratory pathogens regardless of clinical signs.Both confined and free-roaming cats are at risk of developing infectious respiratory disease and their health should be protected by strategic vaccination, appropriate antibiotic therapy, effective biosecurity, feline stress mitigation, and alternatives to high-density confinement. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Animal shelter
  • Foster home
  • Sanctuary
  • Trap-neuter-return
  • Upper respiratory infection

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Authors

  • C. M. McManus

  • L. A. Andersen

  • S. P. McGorray

  • C. M. Leutenegger

  • L. K. Gray

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