Detection of Hemoplasma DNA on the Gingiva and Claw Beds of Naturally Exposed Cats
ACVIM 2008
M.R. Lappin1; P. Dingman2; J. Levy2; JR Hawley1; A. Riley3
1Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3VCA Becker Animal Hospital, Birmingham, AL, USA

Mycoplasma haemofelis, 'Candidatus M. haemominutum', and 'Candidatus M. turicensis' DNA has been amplified from fleas and 'Candidatus M. turicensis' DNA has been amplified from saliva of some cats suggesting that transmission can be flea-associated or direct. The objectives were to determine whether hemoplasma DNA could be amplified from the gingiva or claw beds of cats.

Samples were collected from humane society cats in Colorado (n = 32), Florida (n = 27), and Alabama (n = 10) after euthanasia. Samples were collected on sterile PBS soaked swabs by gently rubbing the base of claws 3 and 4 (forelimb) and the base of a canine tooth. DNA was extracted and assayed in a previously described PCR with results confirmed by sequencing.

Hemoplasma DNA was amplified from 15 of 69 (21.7%) gingiva and 9 of 69 (13%) claw beds. Of the positive samples, 9 of 24 had mixed infections. Hemoplasma DNA prevalence rates from gingiva of cats in Colorado (6 of 32; 18.8%) did not vary from those of cats in Florida and Alabama (9 of 37; 24.3%). Claw beds of cats in Florida and Alabama (8 of 37; 21.6%) were more likely (p = 0.03) to be positive for hemoplasma DNA than those from cats in Colorado (1 of 32; 3.1%).

Evidence of flea infestation was not detected on the Colorado cats and so the presence of hemoplasma DNA was unlikely to be from contamination by infected flea feces. These results support the hypothesis that feline hemoplasmas may be transmitted directly.

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Michael Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Colorado State University
Ft. Collins, CO