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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 in only 0.07 per cent of samples. Data from the reference laboratories showed that, of 174 samples assessed by culture, mycobacteria were grown from 90 (52 per cent). From those 90 samples, Mycobacterium microti (19.5 per cent of samples) and Mycobacterium bovis (17 per cent of samples) were reported most frequently.

The authors conclude that feline mycobacterial infections are more prevalent in GB than previously thought, with changes typical of these infections being seen in about 1 per cent of feline samples submitted to laboratories.

Transboundary and Emerging Diseases (2013) 60, 338-344

doi: 10.1111/j.1865-1682.2012.01352.x

Effect of dietary restriction in the treatment of equine metabolic syndrome

C. M. McGowan, A. H. Dugdale, G. L. Pinchbeck, C. McG. Argo

EQUINE metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a clinical syndrome in horses that arises from over-nutrition, low physical activity levels and obesity, leading to insulin resistance and laminitis. Current guidelines on the treatment of EMS include dietary restriction, but these recommendations lack substantiating evidence. This study aimed to investigate the effect of dietary management in horses and ponies with EMS.

Ten mares and two geldings, all of which were mature, overweight and showed signs indicative of insulin resistance, were recruited to the trial. For two weeks before the trial, the horses were fed on a diet of grass hay soaked in cold water for eight to 16 hours, the weight of which (before soaking) was equivalent to 2 per cent of their body mass (BM). All horses were weighed and tested for insulin resistance using the combined glucose insulin test (CGIT). The horses were assigned to one of three groups based on their level of insulin resistance – severe, moderate and mild – with four horses in each group. Each group was then split into two subgroups that were to receive either a supplement containing 40 g/100 g maltodextrin or a supplement containing 40 g/100 g short chain fructo-oligosaccharides.

During the experiment, horses were limited to 1 hour of external grazing exercise daily and fed hay equivalent to 1.25 per cent of their BM before soaking, as well as 25 g/100 kg BM of one of the two supplements. After six weeks of this dietary regime, the horses were weighed and again tested for insulin resistance.

The results showed a mean total BM loss of 6.8 per cent during the trial. After the first week, average weekly weight loss was 1 per cent of BM. No behavioural changes such as food seeking or door banging were observed during the study and no differences were observed between the two supplements. There was a significant reduction in serum insulin concentrations and insulin response curves between weeks 0 and 6.

The authors conclude that dietary restriction coupled with a nutrient supplement was associated with a decrease in BM and beneficial changes to insulin sensitivity.

Veterinary Journal (2013) 196,153-159

doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.10.007

Linking genetic distribution of BVDV strains in the UK to animal movements

R. Booth, C. Thomas, L. El-Attar, G. Gunn, J. Brownlie

BOVINE viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) causes significant economic losses in the beef and dairy industries. The virus is currently divided into two genotypes, BVDV-1 and BVDV-2. BVDV-1 has been divided into 12 sub-genotypes, including 1a to 1k. The aim of this study was to investigate the phylogenetic distribution of BVDV in the UK and to link information on BVDV sub-genotype to cattle movement data.

Viral isolates were collected from persistently infected (PI) animals from 40 farms across six regions of the UK. Samples were then sequenced using reverse transcriptase PCR and DNA sequencing before undergoing phylogenetic analyses. Animal movement data were collected from 62 farms, including 31 farms from which blood samples had been genotyped.

Most viral isolates from PI animals were typed as BVDV 1a. However, BVDV types 1b, 1d and 1i were also identified. The authors note that BVDV-1d had not previously been identified in the UK and that their results support other reports suggesting that the genetic diversity of BVDV in the UK has increased in recent years. No BVDV-2 isolates were identified in the study, indicating that this strain is not currently endemic in the UK.

When genetic analysis data and movement data were compared, in some cases the same isolate seemed to have infected multiple farms. In one such case, the authors were able to track animal movements between two farms that seemed to have become infected by the same isolate, with direct animal movements having occurred between these two farms during the study period.

The authors conclude that the presence of BVDV-1d, which was previously unreported in the UK, may have implications for BVDV control programmes, as vaccines currently in use may not offer cross protection for these new strains. They add that linking phylogenetic analysis with movement data could provide important epidemiological information about infection mechanisms and could also have implications for legal cases.

Veterinary Research (2013) 44: 43

doi: 10.1186/1297-9716-44-43

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