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Prevalence of mycobacterial infections in cats in Great Britain

D. A. Gunn-Moore, C. Gaunt, D. J. Shaw

MYCOBACTERIAL infections are a global health concern in both people and animals. Cats infected with mycobacteria can develop feline tuberculosis, feline leprosy and non-tuberculous mycobacteriosis. Despite its importance, little is known about the prevalence of mycobacteriosis among cats in Great Britain (GB), although it has generally been thought to be uncommon. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of mycobacterial infections among domestic cats in GB by studying tissue samples submitted to veterinary diagnostic laboratories.

Of 26 diagnostic laboratories that accepted feline samples, 21 were able to provide information about the samples they received during 2009. Sixteen of these 21 were primary laboratories (laboratories that perform routine histopathology for veterinary reasons) and the remaining five were specialist mycobacterial reference laboratories. Eight of the primary laboratories supplied data for a full year. Of the 11782 samples from these laboratories, changes typical of mycobacterial infection were present in 1.16 per cent. Seven primary laboratories provided partial data from 2009 and, of the 1569 samples, 2.36 per cent showed changes typical of mycobacterial infection. The remaining primary laboratory provided data for only part of the year and mycobacterial infection was suspected …

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