Tritrichomonas foetus: the new scourge of feline breeding?

If we step back in time, 5 years ago, the name “Tritrichomonas” did not ring a bell to anybody working with cats… Today, just google it and you’ll find plenty of websites relating experiences about it! What changed? Is it really an emerging disease that threatens all feline collectivities? Or is it just a new trend? Well, in fact, neither of them! Here are some interesting facts that might help you understand more about this really specific parasite before you decide to crusade against it…   

Tritrichomonas foetus is a protozoon, a unicellular parasite which can be found in the gastro-intestinal tract of cats. If other Trichomonadidae were first observed in 1922 in feline feces, their role in initiating a disease in cats was only discovered in 2001 and in 2003, Tritrichomonas foetus was identified as the agent responsible of feline trichomonal diarrhea. Since then, plenty of reports were published, enlightening its worldwide presence: up to 30% of cats are harbouring it! Diarrhea is the main clinical sign, but it is interesting to keep in mind that many individuals are asymptomatic carriers (up to 20% in one study). Tritrichomonas foetus is a well-known cause of abortion and infertility in cattle, and has been isolated from the uterine content of a queen presented for pyometra.  Recent data however tend to show that in felines, this protozoon does not impact fertility.

Tritrichomonas foetus is NOT a new trendy infection in cats, it is unfortunately a parasite that can have deleterious side effects on your animals’ health. A strict approach must be followed in catteries experiencing diarrhea issues: this is something mandatory in order 1st/ to identify the parasite and 2nd/to better fight it. The fact that many new cases are observed today is mainly because veterinarians and breeders are now aware of it. In case the parasite is identified, discuss the issue with your veterinarian so he could come up with an adapted protocol that suits your facility.

Want to learn more about this parasite? Read our article in the Publication section, subsection Parasitology!

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