Veterinary journal (London, England : 1997)

Detection of feline upper respiratory tract disease pathogens using a commercially available real-time PCR test.

PMID 26324635


Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), feline calicivirus (FCV), Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), Chlamydia felis (Cf) and Mycoplasma felis (Mf) are common infectious agents identified in cats with upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Each of these agents can either act as primary pathogens or cause subclinical infections, and pathogen identification can be used to prevent disease transmission in shelters, or to manage individual cats with recurrent URTD. The aim of this study was to compare pathogen detection rates using real-time PCR testing and virus isolation (VI) or bacterial culture in conjunctival, nasal and oropharyngeal swabs from 18 shelter-housed cats with clinical URTD. Co-infections were common; FHV-1 was most prevalent and Cf and FCV were least prevalent. Agents detected by PCR were FCV 2/18 (11%), FHV-1 17/18 (94%), Bb 8/18 (44%) and Mf 15/18 (83%). Agents detected by VI and bacterial culture were FCV 1/18 (6%), FHV-1 12/18 (67%), Bb 8/18 (44%) and Mf 12/18 (67%). Agreement between PCR results and the other two methods was: FHV-1, 57.4%; FCV, 98.1%; Bb, 75.0%; Mf, 60.0%. Discordancies included PCR-positive, VI-negative (FCV, n = 1/54, 1.9%; FHV-1, n = 23/54, 42.6%), PCR-positive, culture-negative (Bb, n = 6/36, 16.7%; Mf, n = 13/36, 36.1%) or PCR-negative, culture-positive (Bb, n = 3/36, 8.3%; Mf, n = 2/36, 5.6%) results. A combination of an oropharyngeal swab and either a conjunctival or a nasal swab submitted for PCR testing was able to detect all infectious agents tested for in each cat. PCR testing was a sensitive and convenient method of detection of infectious agents in cats with clinical signs of URTD.