Authors:Eva Schmal-Filius, Nora Nedorost, Christiane Weissenbacher-Lang, and Herbert Weissenböck
The causative role of some infectious agents found in cases of feline pneumonia is under debate, because they are also part of the physiological microbiota of the respiratory tract of healthy animals. In this retrospective study, archived formalin-fixed and paraffin-wax-embedded lung samples of 69 severe and lethal cases of pneumonia in cats were examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for the detection of nine selected infectious agents: Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma felis, M. gateae, Chlamydia felis, feline herpesvirus type 1, feline coronavirus, canine distemper virus, and Toxoplasma gondii. The intention was to elucidate their immediate involvement in pneumonia formation. Due to the cross-reactivity of the applied antibodies, a species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for both targeted Mycoplasma species was applied additionally. In the 42 cases (60.9%) positive for at least one pathogen, several agents were present in a high proportion of the samples (P. multocida – 34.8%, B. bronchiseptica – 29.0%), while others were present in a moderate (feline herpesvirus type 1 – 18.8%, M. gateae – 13.0%, M. felis – 10.1%) or low percentage (T. gondii – 1.4%). All samples were negative for C. felis, feline coronavirus and canine distemper virus. Mixed infections of up to four pathogens were more frequent than single infections. Mycoplasma preferably colonised lung tissue damaged by other pathogens because they never occurred as single infections. Pasteurella multocida, B. bronchiseptica, M. felis, feline herpesvirus type 1 and T. gondii showed abundant replication within lung lesions, thus suggesting a prominent role in pneumonia formation.