Canine parvovirus-2 is closely related to feline panleukopenia virus, and is the cause of myocarditis in neonatal puppies. It is not known if either of these viruses can infect feline cardiac cells. Feline heart disease is an important and serious illness of cats, and may have an infectious component in some case. The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether there is natural parvovirus infection of the feline myocardium and (2) whether parvoviral infection is associated with feline heart disease.
Although 8 of 36 (22%) shelter kittens had parvoviral DNA in myocardial tissue, viral proteins DNA was not detected in 33 adult cases or 34 controls. These findings were confirmed through an additional method using a DNA probe (in situ hybridization): adult cats did not have detectable parvovirus DNA, although rare intranuclear signal was confirmed in 7 of 8 shelter-source kittens. In kittens, parvovirus was not significantly associated with myocarditis, and in situ hybridization signal did not colocalize with inflammation. The investigators concluded that although infection of cardiomyocytes was demonstrated in kittens, these data do not support a role for parvovirus in feline heart disease. (MK)