Objectives: This paper, the last in a series of three on ‘feline leprosy’, provides a detailed description of disease referable to the previously unnamed species, Candidatus ‘Mycobacterium lepraefelis’, a close relative of the human pathogens Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Methods: Cases were sourced retrospectively and prospectively for this observational study, describing clinical, geographical and molecular microbiological data for cats definitively diagnosed with Candidatus ‘M lepraefelis’ infection. Results: A total of 145 cases of feline leprosy were scrutinised; 114 ‘new’ cases were sourced from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) records, veterinary pathology laboratories or veterinarians, and 31 cases were derived from six published studies. Thirty-eight cats were definitively diagnosed with Candidatus ‘M lepraefelis’ infection. Typically, cats tended to be middle-aged or older when first infected, with a male predilection. Affected cats typically had widespread cutaneous lesions, in some cases after initially localised disease. Advanced cases were often systemically unwell. All cats had outdoor access. The histological picture was lepromatous in the majority of patients, although two cases had tuberculoid disease. In one case that underwent necropsy, lesions were evident in the liver, spleen and lungs. Treatment was varied, although most cats received a combination of oral clarithromycin and rifampicin. Prognosis for recovery was variable, but typically poor. Conclusions and relevance: Candidatus ‘M lepraefelis’ typically causes high bacterial index (lepromatous) feline leprosy that in some cases progresses to systemic mycobacteriosis. The disease has a variable clinical course and prognosis. Many cases either died or were euthanased due to the infection. Multilocus sequence analysis reveals a heterogeneous picture and further analysis of draft genome sequencing may give clues to the taxonomy and epidemiology of this organism. Prospective treatment trials and/or additional drug susceptibility testing in specialised systems would further inform treatment recommendations. Comparative aspects: This paper finishes with a discussion of comparative aspects of infection caused by the three feline leproid disease agents that have been the subject of this series: Candidatus ’Mycobacterium tarwinense’, Mycobacterium lepraemurium and Candidatus ‘M lepraefelis’.
Objectives: This paper, the first in a series of three on ‘feline leprosy’, provides a detailed description of disease referable to Candidatus ‘Mycobacterium tarwinense’, the most common cause of feline leprosy in Victoria, Australia. Methods: Cases were sourced retrospectively and prospectively for this observational study, describing clinical, geographical and molecular microbiological data for cats definitively diagnosed with Candidatus ‘M tarwinense’ infection. Results: A total of 145 cases of feline leprosy were scrutinised; 114 ‘new’ cases were sourced from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory records, veterinary pathology laboratories or veterinarians, and 31 cases were derived from six published studies. Forty-two cats were definitively diagnosed with Candidatus ‘M tarwinense’ infection. Typically, cats were between 3 and 11 years of age, with no gender predilection, and were generally systemically well. All had outdoor access. Most cats underwent surgical resection of lesions with adjunctive medical therapy, often utilising a combination of oral clarithromycin and rifampicin for at least 3 months. Prognosis for recovery was generally good. Resolution of lesions was not observed in the absence of treatment, but a number of untreated cats continued to enjoy an acceptable quality of life despite persistence of the disease, which extended locally but did not appear to disseminate to internal organs. Preliminary results of draft genome sequencing confirmed that the species is a member of the Mycobacterium simiae complex. Conclusions and relevance: Candidatus ‘M tarwinense’, a fastidious member of the M simiae complex, is capable of causing feline leprosy with a tendency to produce lesions on the head, particularly involving the eyes and periocular skin. The disease has an indolent clinical course and generally responds favourably to therapy despite lesions often containing large numbers of organisms. Detailed genomic analysis may yield clues as to the environmental niche and culture requirement of this elusive organism. Prospective treatment trials and/or drug susceptibility testing in specialised systems would further inform treatment recommendations.
Objectives The objective of this study was to evaluate wild-caught mosquitoes for evidence of hemotropic Mycoplasma species DNA and to determine whether the feline hemoplasmas, Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf) and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (Mhm), can be transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a laboratory setting. Methods Wild-caught mosquito pools (50 mosquitoes per pool, 84 pools) utilized in routine public health department disease surveillance programs were tested for hemotropic Mycoplasma species DNA using PCR with primers designed to amplify all known hemoplasmas. Additionally, mosquitoes were trapped in the vicinity of known feral cat colonies, pooled (50 mosquitoes per pool) and tested (84 pools). Purpose-bred cats housed in a research facility were infected with Mhf or Mhm and then colonized laboratory A aegypti were fed upon the bacteremic cats. After a 7 day incubation period, mosquitoes previously fed on infected cats were allowed to feed again on naive cats, which were monitored for bacteremia for 10 weeks. Results Mycoplasma wenyonii DNA was confirmed in one wild-caught mosquito pool by DNA sequencing. While 7% of cats tested in feral colonies were hemoplasma positive, none of the mosquitoes trapped near colonies were positive. Hemoplasma DNA was amplified from A aegypti by PCR immediately after the infectious blood meal, but DNA was not detected at 7 and 14 days after feeding. Although evidence for uptake of organisms existed, hemoplasma DNA was not amplified from the experimentally infested cats in the 10 week observation period. Conclusions and relevance While wild-caught mosquitoes contained hemoplasma DNA and laboratory reared A aegypti mosquitoes take up hemoplasmas during the blood meal, there was no evidence of biologic transmission in this model.
Anaplasma platys ( Apl), ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ ( CMh), Bartonella henselae ( Bh) and Bartonella koehlerae ( Bk) were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and DNA sequencing in a cat diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Other inconsistently documented hematologic abnormalities included anemia, thrombocytopenia, eosinophilia and hypoglycemia. Persistent Apl infection was confirmed for the first time in a North American cat by sequencing three bacterial genes ( 16S rRNA, p44 and GroEL) in peripheral blood samples collected 100 days apart. Following doxycycline treatment for Apl, multiple myeloma was diagnosed based upon a monoclonal gammopathy and splenic plasmacytosis, and the cat was treated with melphalan, chlorambucil and prednisolone. Apl DNA was not amplified from post-treatment blood samples and the hyperglobulinemia resolved temporarily following chemotherapy. Retrospective PCR analysis of stored DNA extracts identified CMh, Bk and Bh infections. Retrospective PCR for antigen receptor rearrangements (PARR) of splenic aspirates did not confirm B- or T-cell clonality. Co-infection with multiple vector-borne pathogens should be a diagnostic consideration in cats with chronic hypergammaglobulinemia, monoclonal gammopathy and splenic plasmacytosis.
Feline haemoplasma infection can cause haemolytic anaemia. The natural method of transmission of haemoplasmas between cats is currently unknown but the nature of some of the risk factors for infection suggests that saliva may act as a mode of transmission. The aim of this study was to determine if Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf) and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (CMhm) DNAs could be amplified from saliva and salivary gland samples collected from haemoplasma-infected cats.
The two most common haemotropic Mycoplasma of cats, Mycoplasma haemofelis and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ have been identified using molecular techniques in all continents, except Antarctica. We report the first molecular characterization in South America of a dual infection with M haemofelis and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ in three domestic cats. The 16S ribosomal RNA gene was amplified in three anaemic cats in which haemoplasma organisms were seen attached to the erythrocytes in the peripheral blood smear. Bands of the expected size for M haemofelis and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ were observed in all three cats. The 393 bp segment of one of the amplicons had a similarity value of 100% to M haemofelis, whereas the other amplicon, a 192 bp segment, was 100% similar to ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’. After diagnosis, two cats received blood transfusion and they were all treated with doxycycline. All three cats recovered uneventfully.
Hemoplasmas are known causes of anemia in some cats and some Bartonella species have been associated with anemia in people and in dogs. In this retrospective study, we used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to determine the prevalence rates of Mycoplasma haemofelis, ‘ Candidatus M haemominutum’, A phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia species, and Bartonella species DNA in the blood of cats with anemia and a control group of healthy cats. DNA of the organisms was amplified from 22 of 89 cats with anemia (24.7%) and 20 of 87 healthy cats (23.0%). DNA of a hemoplasma was amplified from 18 of 89 cats with anemia (20.2%) and 13 of 87 healthy cats (14.9%); DNA of a Bartonella species was amplified from five of 89 cats with anemia (5.6%) and seven of 87 healthy cats (8.0%). There were no statistically significant differences detected between groups.
Blood transfusions are commonly administered to cats; associated risks include the transmission of various infectious diseases including Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf) and ‘ Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (Mhm). Blood transfusions in citrate-phosphate-dextrose-adenine (CPDA-1) solution are commonly administered immediately or stored for up to 1 month prior to administration. It is unknown whether Mhf or Mhm survive in this solution or temperature. The purpose of this study was to determine if Mhf or Mhm remain viable after storage in CPDA-1 for varying periods of time. The results provide evidence that transmission of hemoplasmas to naïve cats occurs after administration of infected feline blood that has been stored in CPDA-1 solution for 1 h (Mhf) and 1 week (Mhm). These findings support the recommendation that cats used as blood donors be screened for Mhf and Mhm infections by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay prior to use.