Histologic and molecular correlation in shelter cats with acute upper respiratory infection

J Clin Microbiol. 2011 Jul;49(7):2454-60. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00187-11. Epub 2011 May 11.


This is a descriptive study designed to correlate diagnostic real-time PCR results with histopathologic lesions in cats with clinical signs of upper respiratory infection (URI). The study occurred over a 9-month period in a single open-intake animal shelter. Cats that were selected for euthanasia by the shelter staff and additionally had URI were included in the study, for a total of 22 study cats. Combined conjunctival and oropharyngeal swab specimens were tested by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) for feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1), feline calicivirus (FCV), Mycoplasma felis, Chlamydophila felis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. Necropsy was performed on all cats, and a complete set of respiratory tract tissues was examined by histopathology. Among 22 cats, 20 were qPCR positive for FHV-1, 7 for M. felis, 5 for FCV, 1 for C. felis, and 0 for B. bronchiseptica. Nine cats were positive for two or more pathogens. Histopathologic lesions were present in all cats, with consistent lesions in the nasal cavity, including acute necroulcerative rhinitis in 16 cats. Histologic or antigenic detection of FHV-1 was seen in 18 of 20 cats positive for FHV-1 by qPCR. No lesions that could be specifically attributed to FCV, M. felis, or C. felis were seen, although interpretation in this cohort could be confounded by coinfection with FHV-1. A significant agreement was found between the amount of FHV-1 DNA determined by qPCR and the presence of specific histopathologic lesions for FHV-1 but not for the other respiratory pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Bacterial Infections / veterinary*
  • Cat Diseases / microbiology*
  • Cat Diseases / pathology
  • Cat Diseases / virology*
  • Cats
  • Comorbidity
  • Conjunctiva / microbiology
  • Conjunctiva / virology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Oropharynx / microbiology
  • Oropharynx / virology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / veterinary*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Virus Diseases / microbiology
  • Virus Diseases / pathology
  • Virus Diseases / veterinary*