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High Prevalence Of Covert Infection With Gastrointestinal Helminths In Cats

Susan Little, Chris Adolph, Kathryn Downie, Tim Snider, Mason Reichard

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Fecal flotation is routinely used to identify feline helminth infections in clinical practice, but it is known to have limitations of sensitivity, particularly for cestodes. To determine the prevalence of helminths in a contemporary population of cats and evaluate the ability of fecal flotation to detect these infections, helminths were recovered from intestinal tracts removed from 116 adult cats humanely euthanized by an animal control shelter in northeastern Oklahoma. Results were compared to those of fecal flotation performed using both passive and centrifugal techniques. Helminths were identified in 78/116 (67.2%) cats, including Toxocara cati (48/116; 41.4%), Ancylostoma tubaeforme (8/116; 6.9%), Dipylidium caninum (40/116; 34.5%), and Taenia taeniaeformis (30/116; 25.9%). Cats with T. cati were significantly more likely to harbor T. taeniaeformis (P = .001) than cats without ascarids. Centrifugal fecal flotation with sugar solution identified 37/48 (77.1%) T. cati infections, 8/30 (26.7%) T. taeniaeformis infections, and no D. caninum infections. Proglottids were detected on external examination in 19.0% (12/63) of cats with cestodes. Cestodes were present in over half of the cats examined in this study, but the majority of these infections were not evident by the detection of external proglottids or recovery of characteristic stages on fecal flotation.