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Home » Archive » 2022

TDK conference 2022

Investigation of tick-borne protozoa in wild cats and domestic cats in Hungary
Rompos Luca - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Parasitology and Zoology
Supervisor: Dr. Barbara Tuska-Szalay

Abstract:

Stories related to the domestication of cats go back a very long time, and owing to the development of urban animal keeping, domestic cats are becoming increasingly widespread. In addition to the growing popularity of cats, there is also a growing interest in their infectious diseases, vector-borne parasites and the related wild cat - domestic cat hybridization processes. The increase in the size of their populations did not cause the extinction of their ancestors - the wild cats - however, as urbanization progresses, these felines often share their habitats, thus creating suitable conditions for the spread of pathogens transmitted by ticks. The aim of our research was to map the occurrence of piroplasms and Hepatozoon species in the region of the Aggtelek National Park, in both wild cats and domestic cats. In the territory of the national park there is a high chance that these felines can interact with each other and share tick vectors. For comparison, we also processed previous samples of domestic cats from other settlements.

A total of 131 individuals participated in our tests, of which 88 domestic cat blood samples came from Debrecen and Szeged. We examined carcasses of 4 wild cats and 1 domestic cat which had died in the Aggtelek National Park area, as well as 38 domestic cats, living in the region, which showed no symptoms of disease. From the latter, we collected blood samples in EDTA tube, and except for 9, we also had an oral swab sample available. Blood smears were made from the samples, and DNA extraction was performed with the QIAamp DNA Mini Kit. Afterwards, each sample was examined by conventional PCR for the above-mentioned groups.

Regarding our results, we were able to detect Cytauxzoon europaeus from one wild cat by PCR targeting piroplasms, and Hepatozoon felis from 3 wild cats when screening Hepatozoon species. One blood sample from the outdoor domestic cats of Aggtelek was positive, in which we were able to confirm the presence of H. felis. Samples collected in previous years from other towns were negative for both pathogens.

The actuality of our results is shown by the fact that the presence of feline Cytauxzoon and Hepatozoon species we confirmed in wild cats has only been recently verified in Hungary. However, the presence of H. felis in domestic cats was not known until now in our country. Their infection is possible by eating an infected tick found in the common living space. We therefore consider it important to draw the attention of both veterinarians and pet owners to the possibility of infection and the importance of protection against ticks.



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