Research projects previously funded by the FHRF

Epidemiology of feline upper respiratory tract infections in shelter cats in Australia

Researchers
Dr N Clark

Dr U Kennedy

Dr M Paterson

Assoc Prof Soares Magalhaes

Year funded 2021

Precis
This study aims to conduct a population-based intervention trial to test the effect of appetite stimulant therapy on the incidence and severity of cat flu. The researchers will perform a molecular study from conjunctival and oro-pharyngeal swabs on a select cohort of cats at RSPCA Queensland upon entry and 7-10 days after intervention with commonly used appetite-stimulant medication. Cats that do not receive the stimulant will act as a control. A comparison of prevalence upon entry and after intervention will enable quantification of the effect of the interventions, and ultimately their contribution to the shelter’s burden of cat flu and subsequent financial and welfare costs.

Status  In progress

Determining the prevalence of haemotropic mycoplasmas in Western Australian cats

Researchers

Dr C Oskam, Murdoch University

Dr C Sharp, Murdoch University

Year funded  2020

Precis

There is currently a dearth of information pertaining to the prevalence of haemoplasmas in Australia, particularly in Western Australia where no epidemiological data has been published. The results of this dedicated epidemiological study will be used to inform local veterinarians regarding the prevalence of haemoplasmas and guide the inclusion of routine haemoplasma screening. It is anticipated that research outputs from this study will inform the need to extend this study nationwide in the future. This study will also contribute to global knowledge and understanding of haemoplasma prevalence.

Status  In progress

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The feline urinary microbiome: exploring its influence in feline chronic kidney disease (CKD), Murdoch University

Researchers

Associate Professor Mary Thompson, Murdoch University

Dr Joanna White, Murdoch University

Dr Jacqui Norris, Murdoch University

Year funded  2019

Precis

The aim of the project is to characterise the urinary microbiome in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Chronic kidney disease is common in cats, but we don’t yet understand all the factors that contributes to how the disease progresses. One possible contributor is when cats have harmful bacteria in a their urine but shows no signs or symptoms. This research aims to get a better picture of all the bacteria, harmful and not harmful, in the bladders of cats with CKD, compared with healthy cats. This will show the differences and may help identify key interventions that may delay the development and/or slow the progression of CKD. Potentially, these interventions could improve the quality of life for cats with CKD. For example, we may identify interventions that alter the urine microbiome, including diet, pharmaceuticals, and even urine microbiome transplant. Additionally, better knowledge could lead to more prudent use of antimicrobials in cats with CKD.

Status  In progress

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Molecular surveillance for haemotropic parasites and bacterial pathogens in cats from Brisbane

Researchers

Ms T Greay, Murdoch University

Professor P Irwin, Murdock University

Dr P Magni

Dr N Dybing

Year funded  2018

Precis

This project aims to investigate recently-discovered, tick-associated bacteria and parasites in cats in Brisbane, and will determine the prevalence of bacterial and parasitic infections in cats in selected suburbs.

Status  In Progress

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Development of a rapid diagnostic method for feline infectious peritonitis

Researchers

Dr Seyed Ghorasi

Dr Joanne Connolly

Dr Martin Combs

Dr Randi Rotne

Dr Alison Montgomery

Year funded  2018

Precis

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is caused by Feline Coronavirus (FCoV), which frequently affects cats under three years of age. While the disease is generally not severe, a small proportion of affected cats (~5% of infected cats in multi-cat households) can develop severe symptoms that lead to death. A presumptive diagnosis of FIP is often based on a combination of clinical history, cat’s age
and findings on physical examination. However, definitive diagnosis is often clinically difficult and as such clinicians often try to form a high index of suspicion through a comprehensive series of laboratory testing.
The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a rapid diagnostic tool, that would allow for quick detection of FCoV from clinical samples using a colorimetric assay called Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (or LAMP assay) that can be completed within two hours.

Status  Completed

Outcome

Overall, this study confirms that when clinical symptoms suggestive of FIP are observed, the newly developed LAMP assay can be used to perform a confirmatory test on site that will yield results rapidly. While positive results on the test will raises a high index of suspicion of FIP, a negative result 4 may not necessarily exclude FIP. Further research aiming to refine the assay to yield higher sensitivities is warranted.

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Duration of antibody response in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)-vaccinated cats and the resulting impact on FIV testing using point-of-care kits

Researcher

Dr Mark Westman

Year funded  2017

Precis

In 2015 we reported that two commercially available FIV point-of-care test kits (WitnessTM and Anigen RapidTM) were able to differentiate FIV-vaccinated and FIV-infected cats, using a cohort of cats tested at a single time point and a variable amount of time since their last annual booster FIV vaccination (0  to 462 days).

Project Report

Following on from this study, in 2018–19, with additional funding from the FHRF (awarded in 2017), we serially tested a small group of cats every two weeks for six weeks following their annual FIV booster vaccination using the same two test  kits (WitnessTM and Anigen RapidTM). Results from this more recent study demonstrated that false-positives did not occur in cats recently administered an annual FIV booster vaccination. This finding suggests that the antibody response that occurs following annual booster FIV vaccination is significantly reduced compared to the antibody response that occurred following primary FIV vaccination, an immunological phenomenon that has also been reported with a hepatitis B vaccine in people.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This finding has immediate clinical application for Australian veterinarians as it means that FIV testing can be safely performed in cats that have recently received an annual booster FIV vaccination using one of the two point-of-care FIV kits tested. We aim to publish these results in The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery in 2020.

Publication

Westman, M., Yang, D., Green, J., Norris, J., Malik, R., Parr, Y., McDonald, M., Hosie, M., VandeWoude, S., Miller, C. (2021). Antibody Responses in Cats Following Primary and Annual Vaccination against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) with an Inactivated Whole-Virus Vaccine (Fel-O-Vax� FIV). Viruses, 13(470), 1-14.

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Investigating feline morbillivirus epidemiology in domestic cats in Perth, Western Australia

Researchers

Dr C Sharp

Dr T Hyndman

Dr T O’Dea

Year funded  2017

Precis

Feline Morbillivirus (FeMV) is a part of a family of viruses that cause significant disease in their hosts.  FeMV was first identified in the Hong Kong cat population and has since been tentatively associated with chronic kidney disease.  Morbillivirus had never previously been identified within cats, and most causes of chronic kidney disease are unknown, so this tentative association could be very
interesting. The virus has been found globally in Japan, Europe, North America and South America but not yet Australia. This study aimed to determine if FeMV was present within the Perth domestic cat population by testing blood and urine samples from 42 sick and healthy cats for its presence.

Status  Completed

Outcome

We did not identify Feline Morbillivirus in this study, however we expect that it is likely present within Australia. Work on this topic continues to be ongoing. The most likely reason for not finding FeMV is the small sample size of 42 cats that was used. Although the cats involved gave a reasonable cross-section of the wider domestic cat community, the low number of cats involved reduced our chances of identification. By utilizing a larger sample size and focusing on cats that already have CKD future work has a greater chance of determining if FeMV is present within Perth. Work on this topic is still ongoing.

Publication

Poster Presentation – https://www.murdoch.edu.au/CAVE/_document/DVM-Conference/Epidemiology-Papers/Epidemiology/Companion-animals/Is-there-feline-Morbilivirus-in-Perth-Western-Australia.pdf

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Determination of mefloquine’s intrinsic clearance by feline microsome. Could this be a suitable treatment for Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)?

Researchers

Dr M Govendir

Dr J Norris

Dr A Izes

Year funded  2016

Precis

The overall aim is to investigate some in vitro pharmacokinetic indices of mefloquine specific to cats. Given that clinically normal cats have problems clearing some drugs, e.g. paracetamol and propofol, sick cats may have even greater difficulty with hepatic clearance. As such, the aim of this study is to use an in vitro model of feline hepatic metabolism to ascertain whether mefloquine is likely to accumulate in the cat. This information will be used to model a starting dosage and determine whether administration of mefloquine is likely to accumulate in live cats.

Status  Completed

Outcome

To date, our research has shown that the Phase 1 hepaticmetabolism of mefloquine occurs quite slowly, if at all, in canine microsomes. Comparatively, in feline microsomes, mefloquine appears to undergo Phase 1metabolism more rapidly than in dogs as is evidenced by a substrate depletion model. Moreover, a potential Phase 1 mefloquine metabolite has been found using the feline hepatic
microsome.

Publication

Izes, A., Norris, J., Govendir, M. 2016, Determination of mefloquine’s intrinsic clearance by feline microsomes; could this be a suitable treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)? Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists

Izes AM, Kimble B, Norris JM, Govendir M 2020, In vitro hepatic metabolism of mefloquine using microsomes from cats, dogs and the common brush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). PLoS ONE 15(4) –https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156057/pdf/pone.0230975.pdf

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Duration of antibody response in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) vaccinated cats and the resulting impact on FIV testing using point-of-care kits

Researchers

Dr M Weston, University of Sydney

Dr Jacqui Norris, University of Sydney

Dr R Malik, University of Sydney

Year funded  2015

Precis

Two point-of-care (PoC) feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) antibody test kits (Witness and Anigen Rapid) were reported as being able to differentiate FIV-vaccinated from FIV-infected cats at a single time point, irrespective of the gap between testing and last vaccination (0 to 7 years). The aim of the current study was to investigate systematically anti-FIV antibody production over time in response to the recommended primary FIV vaccination series.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This study has shown that a primary course of FIV vaccination does not interfere with FIV antibody testing in cats using Witness and Anigen Rapid, provided primary vaccination has not occurred within the previous six months. Consequently, Witness and Anigen Rapid antibody test kits can be used reliably to determine FIV infection status at the time of annual booster FIV vaccination to help detect ‘vaccine breakthroughs’ and in cats that have not received a primary course of FIV vaccination within the preceding six months. The duration of antibody response following annual booster FIV vaccination and the resulting effect on antibody testing using PoC kits needs to be determined by further research. The mechanism(s) for the variation in FIV antibody test kit performance remains unclear

These findings were important for clinicians as they highlighted a scenario (i.e following recent primary FIV vaccination) when interpreting a positive FIV result using WitnessTM or Anigen RapidTM point-of-care kits needs to be done with caution. In addition, our study demonstrated that that WitnessTM and Anigen RapidTM kits can be used to accurately diagnose FIV infection prior to FIV annual booster vaccination (i.e. 12 months since previous FIV vaccination).

Publication

Westman, M.E., R. Malik, E. Hall, M. Harris, M.J. Hosie, P.A. Sheehy, and J.M. Norris, Duration of antibody response following vaccination against feline immunodeficiency virus. J. Feline Med. Surg., 2017. 19(10): p. 1055–1064) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27770018/ 

Citations

The 2020 American Association of Feline Practitioners Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, https://catvets.com/guidelines/practice-guidelines/retrovirus-management-guidelines 

Westman, M.E., R. Malik, and J.M. Norris, Diagnosing feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) infection: An update for clinicians. Aust. Vet. J., 2019. 97(3): p. 47–55

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Diagnosis of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – is testing saliva a valid alternative to testing blood?

Researchers

Dr Mark Westman, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Jacqueline Norris, University of Sydney

Dr Richard Malik, University of Sydney

Year funded  2014

Precis

Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can cause immune dysfunction and malignant lymphoma in cats. It can be transmitted between cats by biting. A vaccine against FIV was first sold in Australia in late 2004 but its efficacy remains controversial and it can interfere with serum antibody tests that are used to detect FIV. In 2013, a FIV test was developed using saliva. This study aimed to determine whether saliva sampling could be used to accurately diagnose FIV infection in cats, regardless of their FIV vaccination status. It was hoped that results from this study would reduce the need for collecting blood from cats for FIV testing while increasing the number of cats that can be screened for FIV

Status  Completed

Outcome

Two point-of-care FIV antibody test kits (Witness FeLV/FIV and Anigen Rapid FIV/FeLV) could accurately identify natural FIV infection in client-owned Australian cats using saliva as the diagnostic specimen, irrespective of FIV vaccination history. This methodology may prove particularly helpful in shelters where large numbers of cats need to be screened for FIV infection quickly and affordably, additional haematologic tests are not indicated and vaccination history is unknown.

Publication
Westman M, Malik R, Hall E and Norris J 2016, Diagnosing feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in FIV-vaccinated and FIV-unvaccinated cats using saliva, Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Vol 26, p 66-72

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Feline herpes virus vaccines and the potential for vaccine recombination

Researchers

Dr Joanne Devlin, University of Melbourne

Dr Fiona Sansom

Ms Paola Vaz

Year funded  2013

Precis

Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) causes serious respiratory disease in cats worldwide. Veterinary medicine uses live herpesvirus vaccines to help control disease caused by these viruses, including in cats. The aim of this study was to use high-throughput DNA sequencing and PCR techniques to investigate the nature and extent of natural FHV-1 recombination in Australian cats, especially recombination involving live FHV-1 vaccines. To achieve this, the researchers used an extensive archive of historical and contemporary field isolates of FHV-1. It was anticipated that this study would contribute fundamental knowledge on FHV-1 evolution and pathogenesis, and facilitate the safe use of FHV-1 vaccines in the future.

Status  Completed

Outcome

The results show that FHV-1 genomes are highly conserved. The lack of recombination detected in the FHV-1 genomes suggests that the risk of attenuated vaccines recombining to generate virulent field viruses is lower than has been suggested for some other herpesviruses. The SNPs detected only in the vaccine isolates offer the potential to develop PCR-based methods of differentiating vaccine and clinical isolates of FHV-1 in order to facilitate future epidemiological studies

Publication

Vaz, P.K., Job, N., Horsington, J. et al. Low genetic diversity among historical and contemporary clinical isolates of felid herpesvirus 1. BMC Genomics 17, 704 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-3050-2

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Genetic Investigation of Diabetes in Burmese Cats

Researchers

Dr Bianca Haase, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Julia Beatty

Year funded  2013

Precis

The aim of this study was to generate whole genome sequence for two well-characterised control cats for comparison with sequence data from Burmese cats affected with diabetes. It was hoped that this study could lead to the identification of the causative mutation for diabetes in Burmese cats, enabling genetic testing and facilitating the breeding of healthier cats. 

Status  Completed

Outcome

Mapping this condition in Burmese cats has revealed a polygenic spectrum, implicating loci linked to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction, lipid dysregulation and insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus in the Burmese cat.

Publication
Samaha G, Wade C, Beatty J, Lyons L, Fleeman L and Haase B 2020, Mapping the genetic basis of diabetes mellitus in theAustralian Burmese cat (Felis catus), NaturePortfolio Scientifc Report, Vol 10, 19194

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Pilot study — What are the Genetic Loci Associated with Diabetes Mellitus in Australian Burmese Cats?

Researchers

Professor Jacquie Rand

Dr Caroline O’Leary

Year funded  2012

Precis

The aim of this study was to identify chromosomal regions and genetic elements associated with diabetes in Burmese cats in Australia. It was hoped that his could lead to improved diagnosis and clinical care for cats, and development of new strategies for diagnosis and prevention of feline diabetes, including improved tools for breeding management for use by cat breeders.

Status  Completed

Outcome

The pilot study results suggest the involvement of a major locus with a significant risk allele prevalence in diabetes in Burmese cats. However, the data in the pilot study were too limited for this to be unambiguously confirmed. A genome-wide association study may be a useful method for investigating the genetic cause of this disease.

Publication
CA O’Leary, DL Duffy, MA Gething, C McGuckin & JS Rand 2013, Investigation of diabetes mellitus in Burmese cats as an inherited trait: a preliminary study, New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 61:6, 354-358

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Evaluating effectiveness of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) for monitoring glycaemic control in diabetic cats

Researchers

Dr Caroline Mansfield, University of Melbourne

Dr Linda Fleeman

Dr Katie Lott 

Year funded  2013

Precis

The aim of this study was s to determine whether using a sensor device as a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS) for diabetic cats would result in a different clinical decision compared to monitoring serum fructosamine or clinical examination findings. A secondary aim was to determine the incidence of acromegaly (cataracts, clubbed paws, broad facial features) in a population of Australian diabetic cats. It was hoped that CGMS would offer a superior method for monitoring diabetic cats that could replace more traditional methods that involve repeated blood testing.

Status  Completed

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A novel system for diagnosing and monitoring haemotropic mycoplasma infection in cats

Researchers

Dr Stuart Fraser, University of Sydney

Dr Richard Malik 

Dr Angeles Sanchez-Perez

Year funded  2012

Precis

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.

Status Completed

Outcome

The technique described is the first report of a flow cytometric method for detecting haemotropic mycoplasmas in any species and could be applied to widespread screening of animal populations to assess infection by these epi-erythrocytic parasites.

Publication
Sánchez-Pérez A, Brown G , Malik R , Assinde SJ , Cantlon K , Gotsis C , Dunbar S and Fraser ST 2013 Rapid detection of haemotropic mycoplasma infection of feline erythrocytes using a novel flow cytometric approach, Parasites &  Vectors, Vol 6, p 158

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Investigation into the ecology and epidemiology of an emerging cause of feline leprosy syndrome in Victoria; Mycobacterium species Tarwin

Researchers

Dr Tim Stinear, University of Melbourne

Dr Carolyn O’Brien

Dr Janet Fyfe

Year funded  2012

Precis

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.

Status  Completed

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Are common household flame retardants (PBDEs) associated with feline hyperthyroidism?

Researchers

Dr Vanessa Barrs, University of Sydney

Dr Julia Beatty, University of Sydney

Year funded  2012

Precis

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.

Status  Completed

Outcome

Differences in exposure estimates for Australian and US cats, based on dust ingestion alone, are consistent with the observed differences in body burdens. The results do not support a role for PBDE exposure in the aetiopathogenesis of FH.

Publication
Chow K, Hearn L, Zuber M, Beatty J, Mueller JF, Barrs V, 2015Evaluation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in matched cat sera and house dust samples: Investigation of a potential link between PBDEs and spontaneous feline hyperthyroidism, Environmental Research, Vol 236, pp 173-179

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Diagnosis of latent (occult) hyperthyroidism in cats using thyroid scintigraphy

Researchers

Dr Deepa Gopinath, University of Sydney

Dr Max Zuber

Year funded  2011

Precis

One of the aims of this study was to examine the incidence of cats that have previously presented with symptoms of hyperthyroidism (e.g. weight loss and heart problems), that on testing have normal thyroxine levels but display an increase in thyroid radionuclide uptake during Thyroid scintigraphy*. These cats have what is known as ‘latent’ or ‘occult’ hyperthyroidism and, without a definitive diagnosis using Thyroid scintigraphy, they may not have been diagnosed due to lack of evidence. This study also aimed to investigate outcomes of treatment for these cats, to determine if the response to treatment is similar to that of hyperthyroid cats with elevated thyroxine levels.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This study found that thyroid scintigraphy* is a highly valuable diagnostic test for use in cats with clinical signs of hyperthyroidism and reference range thyroxine levels. This study and its findings were presented by Dr Gopinath at the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Annual Conference as part of the AVA peer-reviewed abstracts section.

(*Thyroid scintigraphy is a nuclear medicine procedure that uses the selective uptake of administered radionucleotide by thyroid tissue to provide a visual display of functional thyroid tissue.)

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Developing a reliable DNA resource bank for identifying genetic factors associated with susceptibility of cats to diabetes

Researcher

Professor Jacquie Rand

Year funded  2011

Precis

The bank of genomic DNA samples will be used as a future resource to identify genes that will predict which cats are at high risk for developing feline type 2 diabetes. Early diagnosis in cats would be helped by DNA screening tests that indicate a genetic predisposition to diabetes. If diabetes in predisposed cats is diagnosed early, good blood sugar controls can be achieved by managing these cats with diet alone, which increases the quality of life of cats and owners.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This study established a ‘bank’ of samples from 38 diabetic and 91 non-diabetic cats that were over eight years of age to exclude cats with other diseases that may cause diabetes, which develop at an earlier age. Case samples were from specialist feline practices.

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Evaluation of the use of intravenous lipid for the treatment of permethrin toxicity in cats

Researchers

Dr Katrin Swindells, Murdoch University

Dr Rachel Peacock

Year funded  2011

Precis

The aim of this study was to determine whether intravenous lipid therapy is a beneficial adjunctive treatment for permethrin toxicity in cats. Permethrin is a type of flea treatment applied to the skin of dogs. When inadvertently used in cats this product may result in toxicity, which manifests as tremors and seizures. Cats are often euthanised due to the financial constraints of the owners.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This study found that that the affected cats that received 20 per cent lipid emulsion therapy had significantly lower clinical signs recorded over time when compared to the control of cats that received saline solution.

Publication
Peacock , Hosgood G, Swindells K, and Smart L 2015, A randomized, controlled clinical trial of intravenous lipid emulsion as an adjunctive treatment for permethrin toxicosis in cats, Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Vol 25, No 5, pp 597–605 __________________________________________________________________________________

Development and validation of a qRT-PCR assay for the detection of feline calicivirus (FCV) in clinical samples

Researchers

Ms Natalie Job, University of Melbourne

Dr Sally Symes

Year funded  2010

Precis

The aim of the study was to develop and validate a diagnostic laboratory qRT-PCR test for the detection of feline calicivirus in cats. This contagious virus is a major cause of upper respiratory tract disease in cats. It was envisaged that this study would lead to a more reliable diagnostic assay and thus improve the management of cat flu outbreaks by better understanding the pathogenesis and epidemiology of the feline calicivirus infections.

Status  Completed

Outcome

In January 2013, the interim results of this study indicate that the new qRT-PCR test was far more sensitive than the RT-PCR diagnostic assay in use at the time.

Publication

Symes S, Job N, Ficorilli N, Hartley C, Browning G, Gilkerson J, 2014, Feline calicivirus strain FCV89 nonstructural protein (ORF1) and capsid protein (ORF2) genes, partial cds

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Evaluation of a New Diagnostic Test and Therapeutic Monitoring Tool for Invasive Aspergillosis in cats — Serum Galactomannan Detection

Researchers

Dr Vanessa Barrs

Dr Whitney

Year funded  2009

Precis

Invasive Aspergillosis (fungal) infection is a rare but aggressive condition that affects the upper respiratory tract of cats, dogs and humans. During the fungal growth cycle, one of the fungal wall components known as Galactomannan may be secreted into the bloodstream. In humans, this antigen has been used as a marker to monitor the infection.

Status  Completed

Outcome

The diagnostic value of a serological test was used to detect levels of serum Galactomannan in the diagnosis and monitoring of anti-fungal therapy in cats with invasive feline upper respiratory aspergillosis. The researchers found that serum galactomannan testing for detection of these fatal fungal infections in cats is insensitive, in contrast to similar infections in humans, indicating that another type of serological test will need to be found for this type of fatal fungal infection in cats.

Publication

The interim results were presented at the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, Science Week Conference in mid-2011. Dr Whitney was awarded the Edmund Barton Alumni Medal by the University of Sydney for the best Coursework Masters across the whole of the University in 2012. 

Whitney J, Beatty J, Martin P, Dhand N, Briscoe K, and Barrs V (2013) Evaluation of serum galactomannan detection for diagnosis of feline upper respiratory tract aspergillosis, Veterinary Microbiology 162 (1):180-5

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Should Australian cats be vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)? — A pilot study of FeLV prevalence using a new methodology. Stage II

Researcher

Dr Julia Beatty, University of Sydney

Year funded  2009

Precis

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is a significant cause of disease in domestic cats with up to 18 per cent of pet cats infected worldwide. Some cats that are exposed to the virus make an immune response and eliminate the infection whereas others are unable to fend off the virus and become persistently infected. These persistently-infected cats eventually develop FeLV-related diseases including anaemia, immunodeficiency and lymphoma. The prognosis for FeLV-infected cats is very poor with 85 per cent of persistently infected cats dying within 3.5 years of diagnosis.

Fortunately, effective vaccination against FeLV is available. However, it is not widely practised in Australia. This is primarily because the threat posed by FeLV to cats in this country is not clear. This Stage II study aimed to determine the prevalence of FeLV infection among 180 young cats (less than one year old) of unknown retroviral status that are undergoing routine veterinary treatment at local veterinary clinics in Sydney. This study built on the first stage of this project that looked at FeLV prevalence in 90 cats with anaemia or lymphoma that had presented to the Valentine Charlton Cat Centre (see FHRF prior study, 2007).

Status  Completed

Outcome

The results supported a role for factors other than FeLV in the way that cytopenias and lymphoma develop. There was no evidence of exposure in young cats. The results suggested that, in regions of low prevalence where the positive predictive value of antigen testing is low, qPCR may assist with diagnosis.

Publication

Beatty J, Jarrett O, Lam A, Gibson S, Noe-Nordberg A, Phillips A, Fawcett A, Barrs V (2011) Markers of feline leukaemia virus infection or exposure in cats from a region of low seroprevalence Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 13(10):772-5.

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Should Australian cats be vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)? — A pilot study of FeLV prevalence using a new methodology

Researcher

Dr Julia Beatty, University of Sydney

Year funded  2007

Precis

This Stage I pilot study tested the prevalence of FeLV infection among high-risk cats at the Charlton Valentine Cat Centre, University of Sydney, using a number of laboratory methods including a new, more sensitive method. It was expected that the results would provide a solid foundation on which to base FeLV vaccination policies for Australian cats. above.

Status  Completed

Outcome

After collating the results of this collaborative work in May 2009, Dr Beatty applied to the FHRF for further funding. For further details see “Feline Leukaemia Virus study Stage II”, University of Sydney.

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Investigations into glomerular disease in young, related Abyssinians

Researchers

Dr Joanna White, University of Sydney

Dr Jacqueline Norris, University of Sydney

Year funded  2007

Precis

This project used advanced techniques (immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy) to characterise the histo-pathological features of a rare kidney disease in young, related Abyssinian cats.

Status  Completed

Outcome

This study described a new, potentially familial glomerular disease of Abyssinian cats and made recommendations for future study.

Publication

White J, Norris J, Bosward K, Fleay R, Lauer C and  Malik R, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (2008) 10, 219-229