Chlamydia In Cats

Chlamydia In Cats
Chlamydia In Cats

Video: Chlamydia In Cats

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The problem of feline chlamydia has become relevant due to the wide spread of the pathogen throughout the world. The reason for the study of this disease was the discovery in 1942 in the United States of Baker of microorganisms that cause SARS in cats. They turned out to be chlamydiae of the species Chlamydophila psittaci. Chlamydia, detected in birds and mammals, in particular in cats, is a zooanthroponosis (infectious diseases common to animals and humans), therefore, a comprehensive study of chlamydia is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the important modern trends in modern parasitology.

Chlamydia is very widespread among cats: in Japan it is registered in 10% of cats, in Canada - 35%, Germany - 65%, France - 49%, Belgium - 25%, Great Britain - 21%, USA - 47% and Switzerland - 48%. This is due to the presence of an uncontrolled reservoir of the causative agent in nature, which creates a constant threat of the onset of the disease, manifested by conjunctivitis, miscarriages, infertility, the birth of dead or non-viable offspring. In addition, sick cats become a source of infectious agents in humans.

A cat with chlamydia: swollen eyelids, discharge from the eyes, photo photography
A cat with chlamydia: swollen eyelids, discharge from the eyes, photo photography
A cat affected by chlamydia: noticeable swollen eyelids, discharge from the eyes. Photo by G.V. Shatillo

In recent decades, numerous cases of human infection with chlamydia from sick cats have been described abroad. Chlamydia in these animals often has no clinical manifestations, i.e. proceeds in a latent form, so many of their owners and their children are unaware of this and become infected with close contact. Upon careful examination, we discovered chlamydia in them and observed the following symptoms: edema and hyperemia of the eyelids and mucous membranes of the eyes, lacrimation, as well as gluing of the edges of the eyelids with pus, mainly after sleep.

Chlamydia - microorganisms that belong to bacteria and have a unique cycle of intracellular development, including two forms (stages) of the life of the microorganism; elementary body (ET) is a highly infectious form of the pathogen, and reticular (initial) body (RT) is a low-infectious form.

Based on the unique development cycle, these microorganisms, according to the decision of the juridical commission of the International Association of Microbiological Societies on January 1, 1980, were separated into an independent order Chlamydiales, the Chlamydiaceae family, the genera Chlamydia and Chlamydophila. Currently, four species of these microorganisms are known: Chlamydophila psittaci, Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and Chlamydophila pecorum.

Chlamydophila psittaci are causative agents of psittacosis (ornithosis), conjunctivitis, pneumonia, enteritis, abortion, polyarthritis and encephalitis of agricultural, domestic and wild animals, which often become sources of human infection.

Chlamydia trachomatis - pathogens of trachoma (paratrachoma), urogenital chlamydia, lymphogranuloma venereum pathogenic for humans.

Chlamydophila pneumoniae - pathogens of anthroponous (a disease inherent only in humans) respiratory infection.

Chlamydophila pecorum is currently only a few pathogens of diseases in sheep, cattle and pigs that cause damage to the central, nervous, respiratory and digestive systems.

Initially, chlamydial infection develops in epithelial tissues that are in contact with the external environment and have a high renewal rate.

Chlamydia mainly affects the cells of the columnar epithelium, which in cats lines the mucous membrane of the conjunctiva, the pharynx, small intestine, stomach, urethra, cervical canal and rectum.

Having penetrated into the epithelial cell, chlamydiae exhibit specific activity and neutralize the most important defense mechanism of the host cell, providing themselves with the possibility of further reproduction. Chlamydia multiply not only in epithelial cells (otherwise there would be a high probability of loss of a microbe by the body), because in the process of evolution these microorganisms have adapted to develop in the cells of the animal's immune system.

With generalized infection, which is rarely observed in cats, when the pathogen through the blood (the phenomenon of chlamydemia) penetrates almost all internal organs, joints, brain and spinal cord, and the disease ends in death.

Basically, pure chlamydia infection exists only in the initial stage of its development. Considering that chlamydia often affects the body cavities where other microorganisms are located, often conditionally pathogenic (not causing infection), their provoking role becomes obvious. Chlamydiae, possessing intracellular parasitism, create favorable conditions for the development of other microflora due to direct action on the cells of the mucous membranes. As a result, a mixed, or secondary infection is formed, which leads to a significantly more severe form of the disease than that caused by one pathogen.

In the last few years, in the study of 257 cats and 112 cats with various pathologies of the respiratory and urogenital tracts, it was possible to establish that chlamydia infection occurs through airborne droplets and sexually. Elementary bodies (infectious units of chlamydia) were found in 49% of cats and 42.8% of cats.

Chlamydia psittaci, magnified 400 times, photo photograph
Chlamydia psittaci, magnified 400 times, photo photograph

Chlamydia psittaci, magnified 400 times

At the onset of the disease, a slight increase in temperature is usually noted. Infected cats continue to eat food and generally do well, despite obvious conjunctival discomfort. Conjunctivitis begins in most cases with one eye, but after a few weeks the second is also affected. The disease can last from several days to several months and often becomes chronic.

The acute form of conjunctivitis in chlamydia, as a rule, has a short incubation period (the time from the moment the pathogen is introduced into the body until the first clinical signs of the disease appear) - from 5 to 10 days, starting with serous discharge from the eyes, which then turn into mucopurulent due to secondary bacterial or viral infection. Conjunctival hyperemia is observed, that is, it becomes bright red or brick-red, usually more intense in the vaults; individual vessels are also visible. Sometimes her edema is noted - chemosis.

Chronic conjunctivitis is very common in cats and cats with chlamydia, which is characterized by velvety and mild hyperemia of the eyelid conjunctiva. Sometimes follicular conjunctivitis develops, while small grains (follicles) located on the surface of the eyes are found in the corners of the eyes.

The most dangerous complication of chronic chlamydial infection in cats and cats is their infertility. When infected animals coitus, producers become infected. The infected cervical canal is a persistent (long-term stay of the pathogen in the animal's body) reservoir of chlamydia and serves as a source of the pathogen. In cats, chlamydia is localized in the testes and excreted with sperm, as a result of which, despite prolonged contact with the cat, the latter remains unfertilized. I would also like to note that the detection of chlamydia in the conjunctiva was not always confirmed by their detection in the urogenital tract and vice versa.

It should be borne in mind that the introduction of chlamydia into the genitourinary tract is rarely accompanied by noticeable clinical manifestations. The disease is often asymptomatic or latent. Half of the infected cats and cats have no clinical manifestations of the disease. So, based on his own research, the author can argue that the pathology of the urogenital tract of a chlamydial nature when examining 126 cats and 48 cats with chlamydial conjunctivitis and rhinitis (rhinitis) was 57.9% and 35.4%, and 49.5% and 29, 7% in 189 cats and 87 cats without obvious signs of the disease, but with various problems associated with the birth of dead or non-viable offspring and infertility.

Chlamydial neonatal conjunctivitis is also recorded. Usually, kittens are infected transplacentally (through the placenta) or when passing through the birth canal of an infected mother. Chlamydia can penetrate into any open cavity of the fetus and cause an infectious pathology. The most common infections are the conjunctival sac and the nasal part of the pharynx, resulting in neonates developing conjunctivitis and chlamydial respiratory infection, usually resulting in atypical pneumonia.

A feature of chlamydial infection, which significantly complicates its epidemiological surveillance, is its often chronic, with an erased clinical picture or latent (latent) course. Therefore, the most important stage in the system of veterinary and sanitary measures for the timely prevention and specific treatment of feline chlamydia is the earliest and most accurate laboratory diagnosis (recognition of the disease) of the pathogen in different forms of the course of infection.

As for the current situation for animal owners who actively participate in exhibitions and breeding cats, we can advise the following: firstly, it is necessary to examine your animal for chlamydia and, before giving it to mating, demand from the opposite side a conclusion on the results of the study on this microorganism; secondly, if necessary, contact your pet with other animals that do not inspire your confidence should be avoided, as the infection is transmitted by airborne droplets; thirdly, it is necessary to examine your pet for chlamydia only in competent institutions, since when the causative agent of this infection is identified, cases of false positive and false negative results have become more frequent.

Although diagnostic and therapeutic tools have become more effective in recent years, the prevalence of feline chlamydia continues to increase. And in conclusion, I would like to note that it is necessary to provide a reliable control system for chlamydia in cats and cats, which should include: vaccine prevention; providing early diagnosis; early and effective treatment of sick animals; preventive examination of all breeding animals. There is a complex vaccine for immunization of cats, which includes antigens against feline chlamydia.

Author: Igor Obukhov, candidate of biological sciences

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