Evaluation of cytologic findings in feline conjunctivitis

Vet Clin Pathol. 2012 Jun;41(2):283-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-165X.2012.00423.x. Epub 2012 May 2.


Background: Cytologic examination of smears prepared from ocular swabs of conjunctiva from cats with conjunctivitis permits identification of the type of inflammation and possibly specific microorganisms. Results of studies of the diagnostic utility of cytology for detection of infectious causes of feline conjunctivitis have been inconsistent.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to describe cytologic findings in cats with conjunctivitis and to compare those findings with results of PCR analysis for feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), Chlamydophila felis (C felis), and Mycoplasma felis (M felis).

Methods: Conjunctival smears from 88 cats with conjunctivitis and 10 healthy control cats were stained with a Romanowsky stain and evaluated for the type of inflammation and evidence of an infectious agent. PCR analysis for FHV-1, C felis, and M felis was performed.

Results: Infectious agents identified by PCR analysis were FHV-1 in 9 cats (10%), C felis in 8 cats (9%), and M felis in 6 cats (7%). Inclusions interpreted as chlamydial inclusions were found in all cytologic smears from cats positive for C felis by PCR analysis and in 3 PCR-negative cats. Inclusions interpreted as Mycoplasma organisms were found in 3 of 6 cats that were PCR-positive for M felis and in 1 PCR-negative cat. FHV-1 inclusion bodies were not detected on cytologic examination.

Conclusions: Cytologic examination can be diagnostic for C felis infection when many typical inclusions are present. Cytologic examination was unreliable in diagnosing M felis infection, and viral inclusions of FHV-1 were not found in specimens stained with Romanowsky stains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cat Diseases / pathology*
  • Cats
  • Chlamydophila / classification
  • Chlamydophila Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydophila Infections / pathology
  • Chlamydophila Infections / veterinary*
  • Conjunctivitis / pathology
  • Conjunctivitis / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Mycoplasma / classification
  • Mycoplasma Infections / diagnosis
  • Mycoplasma Infections / pathology
  • Mycoplasma Infections / veterinary*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction