2012 Funded Projects

Haemotropic mycoplasma infection study, University of Sydney, November 2012


Dr Stuart Fraser, Dr Richard Malik and Dr Angeles Sanchez-Perez were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “A novel system for diagnosing and monitoring haemotropic mycoplasma infection in cats”.

 The aim of this study was to develop a new laboratory test that allows the determination of the level of mycoplasma infection in the red blood cells of cats. Haemotropic mycoplasmas (previously termed Hemobartonella spp) bind to the surface of red blood cells and are the causative agent of life-threatening feline infectious anaemia. The development of a novel flow cytometric laboratory test for measuring levels of Haemotropic mycoplasmas would be a world-first for Australian researchers in the fields of feline infectious diseases and veterinary laboratory medicine. It is hoped that this new test will significantly improve the timely diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of this common feline infection.

Feline leprosy syndrome study, University of Melbourne, August 2012


Dr Tim Stinear, Dr Carolyn O’Brien and Dr Janet Fyfe were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Investigation into the ecology and epidemiology of an emerging cause of feline leprosy syndrome in Victoria; Mycobacterium species Tarwin”.

The aim of this study was to characterise “Feline Leprosy” infections caused by Mycobacterium species Tarwin, including investigations into the ecology and possible environmental reservoir of this bacterial species. The term “Feline Leprosy” describes a condition in which solitary or multiple lumps form in the skin, gum or external eye tissue of affected cats. These lesions can be initially confused with cancerous lumps, but biopsy and pathological examination reveals the presence of inflammation and bacteria belonging to the Mycobacteria group. These bacteria are related to the causative agents of tuberculosis and leprosy in people. It was envisaged that this study would lead to the development of a PCR test for detecting Mycobacterium species Tarwin in affected cats and their geographical surroundings. It was hoped that these findings might shed light on possible prevention strategies for cat owners.

Hyperthyroidism and environment study, University of Sydney, August 2012


Dr Vanessa Barrs and Dr Julia Beatty have been awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Are common household flame retardants (PBDEs) associated with feline hyperthyroidism?”This study aimed to compare levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in normal cats with cats that have hyperthyroidism. The aim was to identify definitively whether the introduction of PBDEs into households is linked with cats developing hyperthyroidism. Feline hyperthyroidism emerged as a new disease in the late 1970s. Interestingly, this coincided with the introduction of PBDEs. PBDEs are flame retardants incorporated into household products such as carpets, construction materials and electronic equipment. PBDEs have been implicated as endocrine disruptors and are known to particularly affect thyroid function in humans. If this study found that PBDEs are not associated with hyperthyroidism in cats, future studies can be directed at other potential causes of hyperthyroidism in cats. Until the cause of feline hyperthyroidism is identified, disease cannot be prevented.

Have any questions or ideas?


Helen Radoslovich: 0408 812 319