Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Tritrichomonas foetus infection

Synonym(s): T. foetus

Contributor(s): Jody Gookin, Danielle Gunn-Moore, Ellie Mardell

Introduction

  • Tritrichomonas foetus is a protozoan parasite that has been traditionally identified as a cause of reproductive disease in cattle (infertility, abortion and endometritis); while it has been found all over the world, the widespread use of artificial insemination has led to its virtual elimination from cattle in many countries, including the UK and much of Europe.
  • Several years ago T. foetus was also shown to be an important cause of prolonged and intractable large bowel diarrhea in cats, particularly kittens and young cats.
  • Recent molecular studies have shown that the strains of T. foetus that infect cattle and cats may be genetically distinct, and because of this the name T. Blagburni was suggested for the feline strain. This terminology is not yet widely accepted however.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • T. foetus is a microscopic single-celled flagellated protozoan parasite that has traditionally been identified as a cause of reproductive disease in cattle (infertility, abortion and endometritis). In cats, T. foetus infects and colonizes the large intestine (and sometimes small), and can cause prolonged and intractable large-bowel diarrhea.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Although T. foetus can cause diarrhea in cats of any age, signs are seen most commonly in young cats and kittens, the majority being under 12 months of age. Most of the affected cats have come from rescue shelters and pedigree breeding colonies.
  • Factors such as poor litter tray hygiene and over-crowding aid spread of the infection. Stress-inducing factors such as over-crowding, concurrent disease, re-homing, vaccination, neutering, and change of diet, can interfere with an effective immune response in infected individuals and lead to heavier burdens and more pronounced signs.
  • Infection is most commonly seen in colonies of cats and multicat households where the organism is believed to be spread between cats by close and direct contact. Infection has also been associated with attendance at cat shows.

Pathophysiology

  • In cats, T. foetus can infect and colonize the small and large intestines, but it is the colon where it can cause lymphocytic-plasmacytic (and also neutrophilic) inflammation; resulting in increased frequency of defecation, and the production of semi-formed to liquid feces, sometimes with fresh blood or mucus.

Timecourse

  • While experimental infection can result in diarrhea within a few days, many cats can be asymptomatic carriers. Once clinical signs occur they can be waxing and waning, spontaneously resolve or, occasionally, result in intractable diarrhea that can last for up to 2 years.

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Outcomes

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Yao C, Köster L S (2015) Tritrichomonas foetus infection, a cause of chronic diarrhea in the domestic cat. Vet Res 46, 35 PubMed.
  • Xenoulis P G, Lopinski D J, Read S A, Suchodolski J S, Steiner J M (2013) Intestinal Tritrichomonas foetus infection in cats: a retrospective study of 104 cases. J Feline Med Surg 15(12), 1098-1103 PubMed.
  • Lalor S, Gunn-Moore D (2012) Effects of concurrent ronidazole and probiotic therapy in cats with Tritrichomonas foetus-associated diarrhoea.  J Feline Med Surg 14, 651 (abstract).
  • Gunn-Moore D A, McCann T M, Reed N et al (2007) Prevalence of Tritrichomonas foetus infection in cats with diarrhoea in the UK. J Fel Med Surg (3), 214-218 PubMed.
  • Gookin J L, Copple C N, Papich M G, Poore M W, Stauffer S H, Birkenheuer A J, Twedt D C, Levy M (2006) Efficacy of ronidazole for treatment of feline Tritrichomonas foetus infection. JVIM 20,  536-543 PubMed.
  • Mardell E J, Sparkes A H (2006) Chronic diarrhoea associated with Tritrichomanas foetus infection in a British cat. Vet Rec 158 (22), 765-766 PubMed.
  • Foster D M, Gookin J L, Poore M F et al (2004) Outcome of cats with diarrhoea and Tritrichomonas foetus infection. JAVMA 225 (6), 888-892 PubMed.
  • Gookin J L, Stebbins M E, Hunt E et al (2004) Prevalence and risk factors for feline Tritrichomonas foetus and Giardia infection. J Clin Microbiol 42 (6), 2707-2710 PubMed
  • Levy M G, Gookin J L, Poore M et al (2003) Tritrichomonas foetus and not Pentatrichomonas hominis is the etiologic agent of feline trichomonal diarrhea. J Parasitol 89 (1), 99-104 PubMed.
  • Gookin J L, Birkenheuer A J, Breitschwerdt E B et al (2002) Single-tube nested PCR for detection of Tritrichomonas foetus in feline faeces. J Clin Microbiol 40 (11), 4126-4130 PubMed.
  • Romatowski J (2000) Pentatrichomonas hominis infection in four kittens. JAVMA 216 (8), 1270-1272 PubMed.

Other sources of information


ADDED