Determining the prevalence of haemotropic mycoplasmas in Western Australian cats – 2020

*authors and detail needed?*

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.

The feline urinary microbiome: exploring its influence in feline chronic kidney disease (CKD), Murdoch University – 2019

The aim of the project is to characterise the urinary microbiome in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Associate Professor Mary Thompson, Dr Joanna White and Dr Jacqui Norris were awarded a FHRF grant to undertake this study. The hypothesis mooted is that cats with chronic kidney disease will have substantial differences in the numbers and types of bacteria that constitute the microbiome of the bladder in comparison to healthy cats.

This study is a vital component of a larger case-control study and will be undertaken in two overlapping sections. The first part concerns description of the urine microbiome in 40 healthy cats with the addition of collection and storage of urine collected from 20 cats with CKD (for future microbiome characterisation). This part of the study will be funded independently.

The second part of the study is the focus of the grant and involves recruitment of a further 10 cats with CKD followed by microbiome analysis of the urine of the total of 30 CKD cats (i.e. from both parts of the study).

Based on this preliminary data (including the control cases) a power analysis will be conducted to determine the number of additional cases required. The purpose of statistical analysis will be to compare the number and variety of bacterial phyla in the urinary microbiome between healthy cats and cats with CKD. Two separate multivariable linear regression analyses will be used to evaluate the relationship between disease status (healthy and CKD) and:

(i)  the number of bacterial phyla present (richness as assess by the abundance coverage estimator); and

(ii)  the relative abundance of bacterial phyla presence (evenness as assessed by the Simpsons Index).

Both models will account for the potential confounding variables of age and sex.

This project is likely to impact cats in the longer term. Chronic kidney disease is common in feline practice but understanding of the complications and potential contributors to progression such as subclinical bacteriuria is lacking. Gaining insight into the difference in the bladder microbiome between cats with CKD and healthy cats may allow identification of key interventions that may delay the development and/or slow the progression of feline CKD with potential improvements to quality of life for affected cats. Cats receive a fairly limited diet and may thus be amenable to interventions that alter the urine microbiome, including diet, pharmaceuticals, and even urine microbiome transplant. Additionally, more prudent use of antimicrobials in cats with CKD is a likely sequela to increase knowledge regarding the feline urinary microbiome. It is estimated that the project will take two years to complete.

The feline urinary microbiome: exploring its influence in feline chronic kidney disease (CKD), Murdoch University – 2019

The aim of the project is to characterise the urinary microbiome in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Associate Professor Mary Thompson, Dr Joanna White and Dr Jacqui Norris were awarded a FHRF grant to undertake this study. The hypothesis mooted is that cats with chronic kidney disease will have substantial differences in the numbers and types of bacteria that constitute the microbiome of the bladder in comparison to healthy cats.

This study is a vital component of a larger case-control study and will be undertaken in two overlapping sections. The first part concerns description of the urine microbiome in 40 healthy cats with the addition of collection and storage of urine collected from 20 cats with CKD (for future microbiome characterisation). This part of the study will be funded independently.

The second part of the study is the focus of the grant and involves recruitment of a further 10 cats with CKD followed by microbiome analysis of the urine of the total of 30 CKD cats (i.e. from both parts of the study).

Based on this preliminary data (including the control cases) a power analysis will be conducted to determine the number of additional cases required. The purpose of statistical analysis will be to compare the number and variety of bacterial phyla in the urinary microbiome between healthy cats and cats with CKD. Two separate multivariable linear regression analyses will be used to evaluate the relationship between disease status (healthy and CKD) and:

(i)  the number of bacterial phyla present (richness as assess by the abundance coverage estimator); and

(ii)  the relative abundance of bacterial phyla presence (evenness as assessed by the Simpsons Index).

Both models will account for the potential confounding variables of age and sex.

This project is likely to impact cats in the longer term. Chronic kidney disease is common in feline practice but understanding of the complications and potential contributors to progression such as subclinical bacteriuria is lacking. Gaining insight into the difference in the bladder microbiome between cats with CKD and healthy cats may allow identification of key interventions that may delay the development and/or slow the progression of feline CKD with potential improvements to quality of life for affected cats. Cats receive a fairly limited diet and may thus be amenable to interventions that alter the urine microbiome, including diet, pharmaceuticals, and even urine microbiome transplant. Additionally, more prudent use of antimicrobials in cats with CKD is a likely sequela to increase knowledge regarding the feline urinary microbiome. It is estimated that the project will take two years to complete.

Molecular surveillance for haemotropic parasites and bacterial pathogens in cats from Brisbane – 2018

Ms T Greay, Professor P Irwin

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.

Development of a rapid diagnostic method for feline infectious peritonitis – 2018

Dr Seyed Ghorasi, Dr Joanne Connolly, Dr Martin Combs, Dr Randi Rotne, Dr Alison Montgomery

*study title and authors needed -2017 *

Project Background

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).

In 2016–17, with funding from the FHRF (awarded in 2015), we serially tested a small group of kittens and cats every two weeks for six months following primary (i.e. initial) FIV vaccination using these two test kits, as well as two additional kits (SNAP ComboTM and VetScanTM). During the six months following primary FIV vaccination we encountered some false-positive results using Witness and Anigen Rapid, but by six months after vaccination false-positive results had  ceased to occur with these two kits. Conversely, false-positive results continued to occur with SNAP ComboTM and VetScanTM for the duration of the study.

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).

Results from this study were originally published in The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (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).

Results from this study have also been cited in important world guidelines such as The 2020 American Association of Feline Practitioners Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, and also locally in the Australian Veterinary Journal as part of a review that we wrote for Australian clinicians (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).

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.

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.

Investigating feline morbillivirus epidemiology in domestic cats in Perth, Western Australia – 2017

Dr C Sharp, Dr T Hyndman, Dr T O’Dea

*detail?*

Determination of mefloquine’s intrinsic clearance by feline microsome. Could this be a suitable treatment for Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)? – 2016

Dr M Govendir, Dr J Norris, Dr A Izes

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.

Duration of antibody response in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) vaccinated cats and the resulting impact on FIV testing using point-of-care kits, University of Sydney – 2015

Dr M Weston, Dr Jacqui Norris and Dr R Malik

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.

First, residual plasma from the original study was tested using a laboratory-based ELISA to determine whether negative results with PoC testing were due to reduced, as opposed to absent, antibodies to gp40. Second, a prospective study was performed using immunologically naive client-owned kittens and cats given a primary FIV vaccination series using a commercially available inactivated whole cell/inactivated whole virus vaccine (Fel-O-Vax FIV, three subcutaneous injections at four week intervals) and tested systematically (up to 11 times) over six months, using four commercially available PoC FIV antibody kits (SNAP FIV/FeLV Combo [detects antibodies to p15/p24], Witness FeLV/FIV [gp40], Anigen Rapid FIV/FeLV [p24/gp40] and VetScan FeLV/FIV Rapid [p24]).

The laboratory-based ELISA showed cats from the original study vaccinated within the previous 0 to 15 months had detectable levels of antibodies to gp40, despite testing negative with two kits that use gp40 as a capture antigen (Witness and Anigen Rapid kits). The prospective study showed that antibody testing with SNAP Combo and VetScan Rapid was positive in all cats two weeks after the second primary FIV vaccination, and remained positive for the duration of the study (12/12 and 10/12 cats positive, respectively). Antibody testing with Witness and Anigen Rapid was also positive in a high proportion of cats two weeks after the second primary FIV vaccination (8/12 and 7/12, respectively), but antibody levels declined below the level of detection in most cats (10/12) by one month after the third (final) primary FIV vaccination. All cats tested negative using Witness and Anigen Rapid 6 months after the third primary FIV vaccination.

Conclusions and relevance

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

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) diagnostic test study, University of Sydney – 2014

Proposal:

Dr Mark Westman, Associate Professor Jacqueline Norris and Dr Richard Malik were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Diagnosis of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – is testing saliva a valid alternative to testing blood?”

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

Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) vaccine study, University of Melbourne – 2014

Proposal:

Dr Joanne Devlin, Dr Fiona Sansom and Ms Paola Vaz were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Feline herpes virus vaccines and the potential for vaccine recombination”.

Herpes viruses are large, double-stranded DNA viruses that cause disease in a wide range of animal species. Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) causes serious respiratory disease in cats worldwide. Veterinary medicine uses attenuated (live) herpe svirus vaccines to help control disease caused by these viruses. These vaccines are used in cats, as well as in horses and production animals (poultry, cattle, and pigs).

In 2012, Dr Devlin’s laboratory used high-throughput DNA sequencing to show that recent outbreaks of severe respiratory disease in Australian poultry were due to multiple, natural recombination events between commercial vaccine strains of the herpes virus infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV).This has never before been shown to occur under field conditions. These events had devastating consequences for animal health and demonstrated that live herpes virus vaccines can recombine under natural conditions, with subsequent restoration of virulence. These recent findings, reported in Science in 2012, show that potential recombination events need to be considered for the safe, future use of veterinary herpes virus vaccines. This requires an understanding of the nature and extent of herpe svirus recombination that occurs naturally in the field.

The aim of this study was to use high-throughput DNA sequencing and PCR techniques to investigate the nature and extent of natural (field) 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.

Genetic Investigation of Diabetes in Burmese Cats, University of Sydney – 2013

Proposal:

Dr Bianca Haase and Associate Professor Julia Beatty were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Genetic Investigation of Diabetes in Burmese Cats”.

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. Queensland, April 2013

Proposal:

Professor Jacquie Rand and Dr Caroline O’Leary were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Pilot study — What are the Genetic Loci Associated with Diabetes Mellitus in Australian Burmese Cats?”

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.

Diabetes clinical management study, University of Melbourne – 2013

Proposal:

Dr Caroline Mansfield, Dr Linda Fleeman and Dr Katie Lott were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Evaluating effectiveness of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) for monitoring glycaemic control in diabetic cats”.

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.

Haemotropic mycoplasma infection study, University of Sydney – 2012

Proposal:

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 – 2012

Proposal:

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 – 2012

Proposal:

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.

Hyperthyroidism study, University of Sydney – 2011

Proposal:

Dr Deepa Gopinath and Dr Max Zuber were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Diagnosis of latent (occult) hyperthyroidism in cats using thyroid scintigraphy”.

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.

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.)

Diabetes study, The University of Queensland – 2011

Proposal:

Professor Jacquie Rand and colleagues were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Developing a reliable DNA resource bank for identifying genetic factors associated with susceptibility of cats to diabetes”.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 (The Brisbane Cat Clinics) and specialist diabetes clinics (Dr Linda Fleeman, Animal Diabetes Australia, Melbourne; The University of Queensland Small Animal Hospital, St Lucia, Brisbane) and Idexx Laboratories. Genomic DNA was extracted from the samples using QIAmp DNA Blood Mini Kit (Qiagen).
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.

Permethrin insecticide toxicity treatment study, Murdoch University, Western Australia – 2011

Proposal:

Dr Katrin Swindells, Dr Rachel Peacock and colleagues were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Evaluation of the use of intravenous lipid for the treatment of permethrin toxicity in cats”.

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.

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.

(In December 2012, Dr Rachel Peacock, Dr Katrin Swindells and colleagues advised the FHRF that they were preparing the results of their study for publication.)

Feline Calcivirus study, University of Melbourne – 2010

Proposal:

Ms Natalie Job, Dr Sally Symes and colleagues were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Development and validation of a qRT-PCR assay for the detection of feline calicivirus (FCV) in clinical samples”.

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.

Outcome:

In January 2013, Ms Natalie Job, Dr Sally Symes and colleagues advised the FHRF that they have collected swab samples from cats at different locations over several years. These samples have been tested for feline calicivirus using their newly-developed and refined qRT-PCR test for the detection of feline calicivirus. The interim results of this study indicate that this new qRT-PCR test is far more sensitive than the current RT-PCR diagnostic assay.

Invasive Aspergillosis (fungal) infection study, University of Sydney – 2009

Proposal:

Dr Vanessa Barrs was awarded a grant from the FHRF for her study entitled “Evaluation of a New Diagnostic Test and Therapeutic Monitoring Tool for Invasive Aspergillosis in cats — Serum Galactomannan Detection”.

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.

Outcome:

One of Dr Barrs’ Masters students, Dr Whitney, used this knowledge to assess the diagnostic value of a serological test to detect levels of serum Galactomannan in the diagnosis and monitoring of anti-fungal therapy in cats with invasive feline upper respiratory aspergillosis. They 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.

Dr Whitney presented the interim results of this study at the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, Science Week Conference in mid-2011 and 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. Dr Whitney, with Dr Barrs and their colleagues, has published the results of this study in Veterinary Microbiology 162 (1):180-5 in February 2013

Feline Leukaemia Virus study Stage II, University of Sydney – 2009

Proposal:

Dr Julia Beatty was awarded a further grant from the FHRF to extend her study entitled “Should Australian cats be vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)? — A pilot study of FeLV prevalence using a new methodology. Stage II”.

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, in row below).

Outcome:

Dr Beatty and her colleagues have published the results of their studies in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 13(10):772-5 in October 2011.

Feline Leukaemia Virus study, University of Sydney – 2007

Proposal:

Dr Julia Beatty was awarded a grant from the FHRF for her study entitled “Should Australian cats be vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)? — A pilot study of FeLV prevalence using a new methodology”.

Outcome:

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. 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, June 2009 in row above.

Investigations into glomerular disease in young, related Abyssinians, University of Sydney – 2007

Proposal:

Dr Joanna White and Dr Jacqueline Norris were awarded a grant from the FHRF for their study entitled “Investigations into glomerular disease in young, related Abyssinians’’.
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.

Outcome:

During the course of the histopathological study, Dr White and Dr Norris published the clinical features of these cats in Journal Feline Medicine and Surgery 10(3): 219-229 in November 2007.

The authors also prepared a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. This article described the detailed histology of the kidney pathology that was found in this study.