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Feline herpesvirus DNA and Chlamydophila felis antigen detection rates in healthy and affected cats
Ocular changes sometimes leeding to severe ocular damages like corneal sequestration are commonly seen in cats infected either with feline herpesvirus or Chlamydophila felis. Diagnosis of both organisms can be difficult. Are there some hints from cytology and how reliable is the examination of eye swabs from affected versus healthy cats with the most sensitive diagnostic techniques? A very interesting study from Vienna!

Samples were collected from 36 cats with feline herpesvirus (FHV-1)-related ocular disease (conjunctivitis, epithelial or stromal keratitis, or corneal sequestration), and 17 cats without ocular changes.

Corneoconjunctival swabs, scrapings and biopsies were tested in various combinations for presence of FHV-1 DNA using single round (sr) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and nested PCR (nPCR).

Additional swabs from the inferior conjunctival fornix were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for Chlamydophila felis antigen.

Cytologic evaluation was carried out on conjunctival (cats with conjunctivitis) and corneal (cats with keratitis) cytobrush preparations.

FHV-1 DNA was detected by PCR in 14 (39%) cats with ocular disease and 1 (6%) of the control group.

Agreement between srPCR and nPCR results was significant (P < 0.01).

FHV-1 DNA was detected in 3/7 cats with conjunctivitis, 5/6 cats with epithelial keratitis, 3/11 cats with stromal keratitis, and 3/12 cats with corneal sequestration.

There was a significant association (P = 0.0027) between viral presence and epithelial keratitis.

However, no significant association was found between viral presence and conjunctivitis (P = 0.059), stromal keratitis (P = 0.15), or corneal sequestration (P = 0.18).

With respect to FHV-1 DNA detection, intersample agreement was significant (P < 0.03).

No sampling technique seemed more likely than another to harvest detectable viral DNA, except for cats with corneal sequestrum in which viral DNA was not detected using corneoconjunctival swabs.

FHV-1 DNA was detected in 6/9 samples with intranuclear inclusion bodies and in 6/7 cats with eosinophils on cytologic examination. All samples tested negative for C. felis antigen.


Source: Volopich, Sabine, Benetka, Viviane, Schwendenwein, Ilse, Möstl, Karin, Sommerfeld-Stur, Irene & Nell, Barbara (2005): Cytologic findings, and feline herpesvirus DNA and Chlamydophila felis antigen detection rates in normal cats and cats with conjunctival and corneal lesions. In: Veterinary Ophthalmology 8 (1), 25-32.




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