Prevalence of Gastrointestinal Protozoa in Pet and Stray Cats in the Klang Valley, Malaysia
The gastrointestinal tract of the feline species can harbour various protozoa. Most of these gastrointestinal protozoa cause diarrhea in cats and some are considered zoonotic.
This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of gastrointestinal protozoa in the pet and stray cat population in Klang Valley, Malaysia. In addition, this study aimed to investigate the risk factors associated with gastrointestinal protozoal infection.
Two hundred one (201) fecal samples were collected using rectal swabs and were kept in lysis buffer for storage. One hundred ninety-two (192) blood samples were collected and placed in plain tubes to obtain serum and stored at -20°C. Fecal samples collected were subjected to nested-PCR to detect Giardia spp., Tritrichomonas foetus, and Toxoplasma gondii. The simple floatation method was used to identify Cystoisospora spp. for 44 samples. Indirect-ELISA was used to detect antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii in the blood samples collected.
The prevalence of gastrointestinal protozoa in stray and pet cats respectively were 11% and 5% (Giardia spp.), 56% and 14% (Tritrichomonas foetus), 15% and 6% (Toxoplasma gondii). Fifty-two percent (52%) (23/44) of Cystoisospora spp. were found in stray cats. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii was 7.2% (stray cats) and 4.2% (pet cats). Statistical analysis showed no significant association with protozoan infection with sex, breed, and management of the cats. Age showed significance where older cats (≥3 years) showed higher risk for Tritrichomonas foetus.
Overall, there was a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal protozoa detected in stray cats compared to pet cats. This study also identified that cats older than 3 years of age were at a higher risk for Tritrichomonas foetus infection.