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Tritrichomonas foetus is a significant cause of large intestinal diarrhea and chronic colitis in cats, according to various studies (Gookin 1999, Gookin 2001, Levy, 2003, Bell 2010). Trichomonads are flagellated protozoa with a pear-shaped body and an undulating membrane. They are similar to Giardia in size but do not have a cyst stage and are directly transmitted between hosts as trophozoites. Trichomonads thrive in moist, warm, and anaerobic conditions. T. foetus causes venereal infections in cattle and colonizes the colon and distal ileum in cats. The infection rate of T. foetus is highest in densely housed young cats in catteries and shelters. A study on purebred show cats revealed that 31% of 117 cats from 89 catteries were infected with the parasite (Gookin, 2004).

Clinical Signs

Tritrichomonas foetus can cause mild to severe lymphoplasmacytic and neutrophilic colitis, which is often accompanied by large bowel diarrhea that comes and goes. This diarrhea usually has a semiformed or "cow pie" consistency and a foul odor. In some cases, there may be fresh blood or mucus present in the stool. Kittens with severe cases may experience painful anal irritation, fecal dribbling, or rectal prolapse. Although antibiotics can provide temporary relief, diarrhea often persists. Despite diarrhea, affected cats typically remain healthy and maintain good body condition. However, the condition may worsen if the cat has concurrent enteric infections or parasites, especially Giardia and Cryptosporidium.


To confirm Tritrichomonas foetus infection, several testing methods may be used, including direct fecal microscopy, fecal culture, fecal polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, or colonic mucosal biopsy.

1. Trophozoites of T. foetus can be identified in fresh wet smears of diarrheic feces taken directly from the rectum in about 14% of cases. However, it is less likely to detect trophozoites in formed or dried feces or in cats recently treated with antibiotics. Trichomonads, which are similar in size and shape to Giardia, can be identified by their distinctive undulating membrane and rapid, jerky "jitterbug" motility, which is different from the "falling leaf" motility of Giardia.

2. For diagnosing T. foetus, protozoal fecal culture is more effective than microscopy, according to Gookin (2003). The process involves taking 0.05 g (about the size of a rice grain) of freshly voided feces and inoculating it into commercially available protozoal media. The culture then needs to be incubated at 37°C for 48 hours or at room temperature (25°C) for up to 12 days. To avoid missing a positive result, the pouch should be examined daily with a microscope. The detection limit for this method is 1000 or more trichomonads per sample. The wettest part of the stool should be used to obtain viable trichomonads. If the stool is dry or contaminated with litter, a rectal specimen can be collected with a loop or swab. However, rectal mucus on a swab is sufficient for culture but not for PCR. It is important to avoid an excessively large inoculum of feces into the pouch, as this can promote the overgrowth of bacteria, which impairs the performance of the culture system. Clouding of the liquid media and the formation of gas bubbles are indicative of objectionable bacterial overgrowth in the culture. Finally, it's important not to refrigerate specimens, as temperatures below 16 °C can rapidly kill T. foetus.

3. Detecting T. foetus can be done most accurately through a fecal PCR assay, which has high sensitivity and specificity, according to Gookin's research in 2002. To ensure maximum accuracy, the feces sample for PCR should be free of litter and preserved in 3-5 ml of isopropyl rubbing alcohol for shipping at room temperature. The PCR test's sensitivity limit is 10 trichomonads per 200 mg fecal sample.

In infected cats, trichomonads are sometimes detected in the superficial mucus and mucosal crypts of colonic mucosal biopsies, accompanied by an infiltrate of lymphocytes, plasma cells, and neutrophils, as reported by Yaeger in 2005. The BIOGUARD Qmini PCR SYSTEM offers a versatile way of obtaining nucleic acid for PCR through its magnetic bead technology. In just under 10 minutes, nucleic acid samples are purified and ready for use. Additionally, the system includes a pre-made lyophilized powder PCR reaction mixer and pre-calibrated PCR protocol, resulting in PCR outcomes in 90 minutes.

4. Another method for identifying T. foetus is Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).

NOTE: It is important to note that testing is most accurate in cats who have been off antibiotics for at least two weeks, as antibiotics can reduce T. foetus levels and lead to false negative results.

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A cat sneezing is not just as simple as getting a cold. Getting a cold does not seem to be that serious in humans. But for cats, it is the same as an upper respiratory infection, even fatal in kittens, and one needs to be extra careful. The common viruses in upper respiratory infections of cats are feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

Feline Herpesvirus-1

Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV) infection, also named viral rhinotracheitis. It is a common pathogen causing upper respiratory infections in cats. This virus is extremely wide-spread in the cat population with some studies indicate up to 80% of cats have been of cats have been exposed to the FHV.

The virus sheds through oral and nasal discharge. It causes symptoms in cats’ upper respiratory tracts and eyes. The symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctival hyperemia serous discharge. Cats of all ages can be infected, but kittens are more likely to get infected. Mortality may reach up to 30% for young cats and those with weakened immune systems.

After the infection of FHV, the virus will replicate and proliferate in the conjunctiva and upper respiratory tract epithelium. The virus hides in neuronal cells and leads to lifelong chronic latent infection. When the immu-nity is weak, repeat onsets of the disease will happen.

Feline Calicivirus

The feline calicivirus (FCV) is a highly contagious pathogen commonly existing in cats around the world. The virus is transmitted through oral, nasal, and conjunc-tival contact. Viral shedding might persist for more than 30 days (or a few for many years) after recovery. The larger the cat population, the easier it is to spread (such as in shelters).

Symptoms include acute oral and upper respiratory diseases, nasal discharge, chronic stomatitis, etc. Stomati-tis and stuffy noses might cause severe outcomes for cats, especially the young ones, since it may affect their appetites. FCV is a highly mutated virus, and cats might be infected repeatedly with different virus strains.


A presumptive diagnosis is based primarily on a cat's medical history and clinical signs combined with the findings on physical examination, particularly if the cat has evidence of a corneal infection for FHV or ulcers for FCV Diagnosis may be confirmed by collecting samples of cells and discharges from the mouth, nose, or eyes and submitting these samples to a laboratory for specialized testing such as identification by a PCR or reverse-transcrption PCR for FHV or FCV,respectively.

The PCR test or reverse transcrpition PCR test is one of the most sensitive tests and most reliable for detecting the presence of infectious agents. It detects the genomic material of the pathogen and determines its presence in the host. It is often more sensitive and specific than other available tests. Tradictionally, collected samples need to be shipped to a reference lab for PCR test, which usually takes 2-3 days to get the reports. long-distance logistic not only affects the speed but also increases the cost. To move beyond this bottleneck, Bioguard now offer the innovative solutions: Qmini Real-time PCR series for the in-clinic real-time PCR testing. In just under 10 minutes, nucleic acid samples are purified and ready for use.In addition, the system includes a pre-made lyophilized powder PCR reaction mixer and pre-calibrated PCR protocol, resulting in PCR outcomes in 90 minutes.

To learn more about Qmini PCR, click here
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The Bioguard is a company focusing on animal disease diagnostic services and products.
Our animal health diagnostic center is the first and only ISO/ IEC 17025 accredited animal disease testing laboratory in Taiwan and China.

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