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Schulz, Bianka S.; Richter, Petra; Weber, Karin; Mueller, Ralf S.; Wess, Gerhard; Zenker, Isabella; Hartmann, Katrin (2014): Detection of feline Mycoplasma species in cats with feline asthma and chronic bronchitis. In: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 16, No. 12: pp. 943-949
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Abstract

Little is known about the aetiology of inflammatory lower airway disease in cats. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of Mycoplasma species in cats with feline asthma (FA) and chronic bronchitis (CB). The study population consisted of 17 cats with FA/CB, and 14 sick cats without clinical and historical signs of respiratory disease, which were euthanased for various other reasons. Nasal swabs, nasal lavage and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples were taken from patients from both groups. Mycoplasma species culture with modified Hayflick agar and Mycoplasma polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were performed on all samples followed by sequencing of all Mycoplasma species-positive samples for differentiation of subspecies. PCR testing detected significantly more Mycoplasma species-positive BALF samples than Mycoplasma culture (P = 0.021). When cats with oropharyngeal contamination were excluded from comparison, the numbers of Mycoplasma species-positive BALF samples in the group with FA/CB (6/17) and the control group (4/9) were not significantly different (P = 0.6924). While all nasal samples of the cats with FA/CB were negative for Mycoplasma organisms, five samples in the control group (P = 0.041) were positive on PCR. Sequencing revealed Mycoplasma felis in all PCR-positive samples. Mycoplasma species can be detected in the lower airways of cats with FA/CB, as well as in the BALF of sick cats without respiratory signs. Further studies are warranted to investigate the possibility that Mycoplasma species represent commensals of the lower respiratory tract of cats.