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Intestinal pathogens in shelter cats

Sabshin SJ, Levy JK, Tupler T, Tucker SJ, Greiner EC and Leutenegger CM. Enteropathogens identified in cats entering a Florida animal shelter with normal feces or diarrhea. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012; 241: 331-7.
Some pathogens of the intestines of cats are transmissible to people. Some pathogens may be more common in shelter-housed cats than pet cats likely due to lack of preventive health care. Often times infected cats are completely asymptomatic. These investigators examined the feces of cats entering a shelter for various enteric pathogens. They tested 100 cats from a municipal shelter, 50 with diarrhea and 50 without, for a variety of enteric pathogens. Twelve different agents were identified. Interestingly, cats with diarrhea were no more likely to be infected with more than one pathogen than cats without any symptoms. Only feline coronavirus was more likely to be found in cats with diarrhea than cats with normal stools. 

Among the 12 agents identified in the cats tested, several were zoonotic agents, transmissible to people. These included various parasites as well as Salmonella. It is not possible to test all shelter cats for these pathogens, thus it is imperative that appropriate management and biosecurity measures be used by personnel at shelters for their protection. [MK]

See also: Queen EV, Marks SL and Farver TB. Prevalence of selected bacterial and parasitic agents in feces from diarrheic and healthy control Cats from Northern California. J Vet Intern Med. 2012; 26: 54-60.