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Neuropathological findings in cats with clinically suspect but histologically unconfirmed feline spongiform encephalopathy
  1. D. F. Kelly, MA, PhD, BVSc, FRCPath, DipECVP, MRCVS1,
  2. G. A. H. Wells, BVetMed, FRCPath, DipECVP, MRCVS2,
  3. M. Haritani, DVM, PhD2,
  4. R. J. Higgins, MSc, BVM&S, MRCVS3 and
  5. M. Jeffrey, DVM, BVMS, FRCPath, DipECVP, MRCVS4
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZJ
  2. 2Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  3. 3Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Thirsk, West House, Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 1PZ
  4. 4Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Lasswade, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ


Central nervous system (CNS) tissues from 192 cats with neurological signs were examined histologically, and tissues from 173 of them were later examined immunohistochemically as part of a survey to determine the prevalence of feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE). One of the cats was from Norway and the others were from Great Britain. The most commonly recorded clinical signs were ataxia, behavioural changes and epilepsy, but none of the cats had histopathological evidence of FSE. The most common organic CNS lesions were non-suppurative encephalomyelitis in 28 per cent, neoplasia in 15 per cent and a heterogeneous group of degenerative encephalopathies in 9 per cent of the cats. A range of minor histological lesions of uncertain significance was also observed. No histological lesions were observed in the tissues of 63 (33 per cent) of the cats. Disease-specific prion protein (PrPSc) was observed in only one of the 173 cats examined by immunohistochemistry.

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  • Dr Haritani’s present address is National Institute of Animal Health, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0856, Japan

  • Mr Higgins’s present address is Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Lasswade, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ

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