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Weis, Sonia; Rettinger, Anna; Bergmann, Michele; Llewellyn, Julia R.; Pantchev, Nikola; Straubinger, Reinhard K.; Hartmann, Katrin (2017): Detection of Leptospira DNA in urine and presence of specific antibodies in outdoor cats in Germany. In: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 19, No. 4: pp. 470-476
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Abstract

Objectives Clinical manifestation of infection with Leptospira species in cats is rare. Nevertheless, cats can develop specific antibodies against the spirochetes after infection. In Canada, Taiwan and the USA it was recently demonstrated that naturally infected cats can also shed DNA from pathogenic Leptospira species in their urine, but the zoonotic potential of infected cats is still unclear. The objective of this study was to demonstrate if outdoor cats in Germany shed DNA from pathogenic Leptospira species in their urine. As a second aim, antibody prevalence was determined. Methods Two hundred and fifteen outdoor cats were prospectively recruited. Urine samples were tested by realtime PCR targeting the lipL32 gene of pathogenic Leptospira species. Antibody titres against eight serovars (Australis, Autumnalis, Bratislava, Canicola, Copenhageni, Grippotyphosa, Pomona, Saxkoebing) belonging to seven serogroups (Australis, Autumnalis, Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Pomona, Sejroe) were determined by microscopic agglutination test. Results Urine samples from 7/215 cats (3.3%;95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9-5.7) were PCR-positive. Specific antibodies were detected in 35/195 cats (17.9%;95% CI: 12.5-23.3) with titres ranging from 1:100 to 1:6400. Australis, Bratislava and Grippotyphosa were the most common serovars. Conclusions and relevance Outdoor cats in Germany can shed DNA from pathogenic Leptospira species. Therefore, outdoor cats should be considered as a possible source of infection for dogs or humans. Further studies are needed to determine the role of Leptospira species as a cause of disease in cats.