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A cat case due to Salmonella contaminated food

Fauth E, Freeman LM, et al. Salmonella bacteriuria in a cat fed a Salmonella-contaminated diet. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015 Sep 1;247(5):525-530.

Information here includes a case description of a 9-year old male DSH cat examined because of hematuria (red blood cells in the urine) and weight loss that occurred over an approximate 6 months time period after an 8 year history of intermittent signs of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Laboratory findings of a CBC, serum biochemical analysis and serum total thyroxine concentration were within normal reference intervals other than and a slightly elevated serum albumin concentration from the reference range. With RBCs too numerous to count on microscopic examination of a urine sample obtained via ultrasound-guided cystocentesis, a bacteriologic culture of a urine sample was performed, yielding Salmonella organisms (> 100,000 CFUs/mL).

It was determined that the owner was feeding a wet (pouch) food and a granular diet. The granular diet was a commercially produced food in which the individual ingredients were cooked, but the diet itself did not go through a standard cooking procedure.

Due to the positive culture of Salmonella from the urine sample, samples were taken from the feces of the affected cat, feces of another cat in the household, and the granular food sample.  Three Salmonella serotypes were cultured. The affected cat was placed on a course of antimicrobial therapy, dietary change and environmental enrichment where there was a positive response.

The presence of Salmonella in the feces of both cats raises concerns for both animals and public health for people. It is surmised that the feeding of the commercial granular diet may have led to shedding of salmonellae in the feces of both cats and the Salmonella bacteriuria in the symptomatic cat. Data on the public health risks of raw meat based diets (RBMDs) are increasing. The one diet fed did not go through standard cooking procedures which put this diet at a higher risk for microbial contamination. Standard commercial cooking measures, such as extrusion and canning, along with strong quality control procedures, will reduce the risk for contamination in cooked commercial foods. Commercial dry extruded foods can also become contaminated with Salmonella spp and other pathogens so caution is always warranted.

Based on the example of this particular case, the authors recommend and emphasize the importance of obtaining a complete diet history for every veterinary patient at every clinic visit. When it is determined through diet history that owners are feeding a commercially prepared or home-prepared RMBD (plus raw dried or freeze-dried pet treats) or a diet that did not undergo standard cooking procedure, the owners should be counseled regarding the health risks to themselves and other pets associated with this feeding strategy. (VT)

See also:
Finley R, Ribble C, et al. The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated food diets. Can Vet J. 2007 Jan;48(1):69-75.