Detection of Feline Calicivirus RNA, Feline Herpesvirus-1 DNA, and Bartonella Spp. DNA in Tissues of Cats With and Without Gingivostomatitis
ACVIM 2008
K. Dowers; N. Wilkerson; J.R. Hawley; M. Brewer; M.R. Lappin
Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University
Ft. Collins, CO, USA

Gingivostomatitis (GS) is a common syndrome in cats; feline calicivirus (FCV), feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1), and Bartonella spp. are common differential diagnoses. Currently, there is minimal information available concerning the presence of nucleic acids of these microbes in the oral tissues of cats with or without GS. The objective of this study was to report the prevalence rates of FCV RNA, FHV-1 DNA, and Bartonella spp. DNA in gingival tissues of cats.

Fresh tissue biopsies from affected areas of cats with GS (n = 42) were obtained and submitted on ice by practicing veterinarians throughout the United States. A 6 mm skin biopsy punch was used to collect a full thickness biopsy from the right palatoglossal arch of normal cats housed in a humane society (n = 19) in Colorado after euthanasia for reasons unrelated to the study. The normal cats had lived in the humane society for 1 to 33 days (median = 7 days) and 14 of 19 had been administered an intranasal, modified live FCV, FHV-1, and panleukopenia on admission. The majority of cats with GS had been vaccinated but it is unknown when the last inoculation was given. DNA and RNA were extracted from the fresh tissues by use of a commercially available kit and previously described PCR assays (FHV-1 and Bartonella spp.) or reverse transcriptase PCR assay (FCV) were used to amplify the target DNA or RNA.

FCV RNA was amplified from a statistically greater number of cats with GS than control cats (Fischer's exact test; p = 0.001). Bartonella spp. DNA was amplified only from cats with GS and all were B. clarridgeiae but the significance of these findings is unknown as Bartonella spp. are regionally defined by flea risk and the control cats came from a low flea risk state.



Cat group



Bartonella spp.


17/42 (40.5%)

2/42 (4.8%)

3/34 (8.8%)


0/19 (0%)

3/19 (15.8%)

0/19 (0%)

The results suggest that FCV was associated with stomatitis in some of the cats with GS. In addition, administration of an intranasal modified live FCV containing vaccine approximately 1-33 days prior to oral tissue biopsy is unlikely to result in a positive result in the reverse transcriptase PCR assay for FCV used here.

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Kristy Dowers