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Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in Shelters

Dinnage, J.D., J.M. Scarlett, and J.R. Richards, Descriptive epidemiology of feline upper respiratory tract disease in an animal shelter. J Feline Med Surg, 2009. 11(10): p. 816-25.

Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) is a common disease in cats and can spread quickly among cats residing in animal shelters. These infections cause suffering, consume vital personnel and financial resources, and limit adoptions. In a large urban shelter in the northeast United States, 531 kittens, 701 litters, and 2,203 adult cats were observed during their stays on a daily basis over a period of 50 weeks for signs of URTD. The median lengths of stay for adult cats and kittens were 5 and 4 days, respectively. Approximately 1/3 of the cats exhibited signs of infectious respiratory disease. Regardless of age group, the probability of developing URTD rose steadily with increasing time spent in the shelter. The probability of exhibiting signs remained low until day 6 and then rose steadily to where by day 14, the cumulative probabilities had risen to 84% (litters), 86% (individual kittens), and 80% (adult cats). In different categories, adult cats over 11 years of age had a significantly higher risk of URTD than younger cats. Neutered males cats had higher rates of URTD than spayed females, and purebred cats were at higher risk than ones of mixed breeding. Strays were more likely to have URTD than owner-surrendered cats. The study documented the strong association between the length of the residence in a shelter and the risk of developing URTD. The results suggest shelters should focus efforts and programs at minimizing the length of time cats spend in a shelter. [VT]
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Related articles:
Zicola, A., et al., Feline herpesvirus 1 and feline calicivirus infections in a heterogeneous cat population of a rescue shelter. J Feline Med Surg, 2009.
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Edwards, D.S., et al., Risk factors for time to diagnosis of feline upper respiratory tract disease in UK animal adoption shelters. Prev Vet Med, 2008. 87(3-4): p. 327-39.
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