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Tritrichomonas foetus colitis in cats - the histologic features
Colitis is a common problem especially in young cats which are allowed to go outdoors. Endoparasites are a very commmon reason, including Tritrichomonas foetus. But this parasite is much harder to diagnose. Sometimes only in mucosal biopsies which show interesting features.

Tritrichomonas foetus is a venereal pathogen of naturally bred cattle.

In domestic cats, T. foetus colonizes the colon, resulting in chronic, large-bowel diarrhea. The infection is prevalent among young, densely housed cats, and there is no effective treatment.

To the authors` knowledge, the characteristic microscopic lesions of T. foetus infection in naturally infected cats have not been described.

The aim of the study reported here was to characterize the histologic changes in the colon of seven cats with T. foetus infection and chronic diarrhea.

All cats were 1 year old or younger (mean, 6.7 ± 1.7 months), and a diagnosis of T. foetus infection was made on the basis of direct fecal smear examination (five cats), fecal culture in InPouchTM TF medium (four cats), single-tube nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of DNA extracted from feces (two cats), or observation of trichomonads in sections of colon followed by PCR confirmation on DNA extracted from paraffin-embedded tissue (two cats).

The presence of colonic trichomonads was the most diagnostic histologic feature. Organisms were identified in all cats, but in only 24 of 43 (56%) sections of colon.

Trichomonads were generally present in close proximity to the mucosal surface and less frequently in the lumen of colonic crypts. The presence of colonic trichomonads was consistently associated with mild-to-moderate lymphoplasmacytic and neutrophilic colitis, crypt epithelial cell hypertrophy, hyperplasia and increased mitotic activity, loss of goblet cells, crypt microabscesses, and attenuation of the superficial colonic mucosa.

In two of the cats, histologic lesions were more severe and were associated with invasion of trichomonads into the lamina propria and/or deeper layers of the colon.

Source: M. J. Yaeger and J. L. Gookin (2005): Histologic Features Associated with Tritrichomonas foetus-induced Colitis in Domestic Cats. In: Vet Pathol 42:797-804 (2005)



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