Journal Scan: Investigating tritrichomoniasis as a cause of diarrhea

Journal Scan: Investigating tritrichomoniasis as a cause of diarrhea

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Apr 16, 2014

Why they did it

These authors sought to better understand the signalment, history, and response to therapy in cats with naturally occurring Tritrichomonas foetus-associated intestinal disease.

What they did

The authors evaluated case data from the Gastrointestinal Laboratory at Texas A&M University database for cats whose fecal samples had tested positive for T. foetus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing between January 2006 and December 2009. Patient signalment, history, clinical presentation, and treatment data were documented.

What they found

Data from 104 cats revealed that about half (52%) of the cats were purebred. While the median age of the cats was 1 year (range 1 month to 16.3 years), a little over half of the cats (56%) were 1 year or older, and about 7% were 10 years or older. The median number of cats per household was two, and 91/101 (90%) of cats lived exclusively indoors.

The most common clinical sign was diarrhea (98%) with a median duration of 4.5 months. Over half (59%) of these cats had had signs of diarrhea since adoption. Other clinical signs noted included depression, decreased appetite, anorexia, weight loss, or vomiting.

Data from 45 cats treated with ronidazole was evaluated. Among these, treatment resulted in good clinical response in 29 (64%) cats; 16 (36%) cats showed either partial or no response to therapy or relapsed shortly after stopping treatment. Ten of the 45 cats were treated at or above the currently recommended dose of ronidazole—30 mg/kg orally every 24 hours for two weeks—while others were treated at lower cumulative doses. Treatment was discontinued in six cats because of neurologic signs, anorexia, or both. A small percentage of tested cats were also infected with other parasites such as coccidia (3/85) and Giardia species (15/67).

Take-home message

While the risk of infection with T. foetus is high among cats in catteries and shelters, this study also suggests that cats living in single-cat environments may still display clinical signs years later of an infection that was acquired at a young age while living in a multicat environment. Current recommended doses of ronidazole may be effective, but clinical signs may not be ameliorated in all cases.

Xenoulis PG, Lopinski DJ, Read SA, et al. Intestinal Tritrichomonas foetus infection in cats: a retrospective study of 104 cases. J Feline Med Surg 2013; 15:1098-1103.

Link to abstract: http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/15/12/1098