Feline mycobacterial infections: an update

Jordan Mitchell, Danielle Gunn-Moore, Paul Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Feline mycobacterial disease is highly prevalent within Great Britain1, 2 and there is increasing awareness of these infections, especially following the recent outbreak of Mycobacterium bovis tuberculosis, associated with feeding a commercial raw food diet3. Investigations into this outbreak are ongoing and further details will published as soon as we can.

We would like to thank all veterinary surgeons who have contacted the Companion Animal TB team at The University of Edinburgh and who have been able to provide samples to further our research, and to the owners who have consented to share their pet’s data and blood remnants. One of the major developments in recent years has been the commercialisation of the interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA)4, 5 by Biobest Laboratories Ltd., which is now used routinely for diagnosing feline mycobacterial infections. Since the test became available in mid-2013, nearly 800 samples from felids (mostly pet cats but also some zoo species) have been tested from approximately 600 unique individuals.

To improve our ability to diagnose these infections and provide better prognostic information, we are requesting the assistance of those who have submitted samples for IGRA testing. Shortly, we will be contacting you to request clinical history and follow-up of these cases; we are interested in the clinical signs the cat presented with, the results of any additional diagnostics, what treatment was given, and how the cat responded. We know that some of you have sent us clinical information previously and we are grateful for this, but this will be the largest study into the use of the IGRA and receiving information on these cases will provide us with long-term follow-up data we have not been previously able to assess.

As part of our ongoing research, in conjunction with Biobest, we are looking to developing new diagnostic tests, with the aim of delivering a commercial range of TB diagnostics, including a sensitive multiplex PCR, in the near future. In order to achieve this, Biobest will be requesting a larger volume of blood submitted when requiring IGRA testing; 3mL of heparinised, un-chilled, un-spun blood will be needed to run the IGRA, with the additional 1mL for developing the new diagnostic test. If a larger volume of blood can be obtained, this would be greatly appreciated. We know it can be stressful for the veterinary team, owners and cats to collect blood from cats. In those cats where there are concerns over the ability to safely and calmly obtain blood samples, we suggest giving 50-100mg gabapentin PO6, 7 or 50-100mg trazodone PO 90 minutes prior to the cat being taken to the clinic for sampling8, 9. A chicken-flavoured liquid version of gabapentin is available through BOVA UK Laboratories, and Summit Veterinary Pharmaceuticals.

Additionally, we would like to make colleagues aware that BOVA UK Laboratories have recently produced a combined rifampicin (35mg) and azithromycin (30mg) capsule, suitable for cats weighing between 2.5kg and 6.0kg. This reduces the requirement for compounding of either agent and will greatly facilitate medicating our patients. Please contact BOVA UK Laboratories for more information on product availability.

The team at Edinburgh continue to wish to hear about any cases of suspect mycobacterial disease. This is a free service we provide for referring clinicians, in addition to our research, clinical and teaching commitments; your assistance with our requests will help us provide you with the best information possible to maximise outcomes for your patients and their owners. Thank you in advance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-348
Number of pages2
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2019


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