The Use of a Shelter Software (a) to Track Frequency and Selected Risk Factors for Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

Animals (Basel). 2015 Mar 25;5(2):161-72. doi: 10.3390/ani5020161.


Objective-Feline upper respiratory infection (URI) is a common, multi-factorial infectious disease syndrome endemic to many animal shelters. Although a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in shelter cats, URI is seldom formally monitored in shelter cat populations. Without monitoring, effective control and prevention of this often endemic disease is difficult. We looked at an integrated case management software system (a) for animal care organizations, widely used in shelters across the United States. Shelter staff routinely enter information regarding individual animals and disease status, but do not commonly use the software system to track frequency of disease. The purpose of this study was to determine if the software system (a) can be used to track URI frequency and selected risk factors in a population, and to evaluate the quality and completeness of the data as currently collected in a shelter. Design (type of study)-Descriptive Survey. Animals (or Sample)-317 cats in an animal shelter. Procedures-Reports from the software system (a) containing data regarding daily inventory, daily intake, animal identification, location, age, vaccination status, URI diagnosis and URI duration were evaluated. The reports were compared to data collected manually by an observer (Ann Therese Kommedal) to assess discrepancies, completeness, timeliness, availability and accuracy. Data were collected 6 days a week over a 4 week period. Results-Comparisons between the software system (a) reports and manually collected reports showed that 93% of inventory reports were complete and of these 99% were accurate. Fifty-two percent of the vaccination reports were complete, of which 97% were accurate. The accuracy of the software system's age reports was 76%. Two-hundred and twenty-three cats were assigned a positive or negative URI diagnosis by the observer. The predictive value of the URI status in the software system (a) was below 60% both for positive and negative URI diagnosis. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance-data currently collected and entered into the software systems in the study shelter, was not useful for tracking URI frequency and risk factors, due to issues with both data quality and capture. However, the potential exists to increase the practicality and usefulness of this shelter software system to monitor URI and other diseases. Relevant data points, i.e., health status at intake and outcome, vaccination date and status, as well as age, should be made mandatory to facilitate more useful data collection and reporting.

Keywords: cats; data quality; feline upper respiratory infection; herd health; infectious disease; population management; shelter medicine.