Have you had this test done yet?
......TF is an emerging parasite in the feline world. Surveys have suggested that approximately one third of all purebred cats are infected. It is rarely tested for and may be responsible for many of the cases of chronic diarrhea (e.g. IBD) in cats. If you are a cat owner please take some time to read this page and acquaint yourself with this 'new' parasite. If we can help answer any questions contact us
Our TF History: We first learned about TF in January 2006. The symptoms of this parasite matched some of the symptoms we were seeing in some of our Abys. We purchased the equipment and tests required to detect TF and began testing in February. We found TF in 10 of our Abys (8 adults and 2 kittens). Working with our vet we have treated our Abys and are now regularly testing to insure our Abys are TF free.
Current TF Status: Since our initial TF test we have performed 110 TF tests. All of our adult female have now repeatedly tested negative. None of our kittens in our current litters have tested positive. We do have one new problem. Two of our young intact male studs have failed treatment. A theory has been proposed by Dr Gookin (TF researcher) that intact males may be able to harbor TF in their sex organs which may be beyond the reach of the drug used to treat TF. We are now treating these males with a different drug. It will take about three weeks before we know how effective this treatment has been. These males have been isolated so they do not pose a threat of infection to our other Abys
Where did TF come from?:Tritrichomonas foetus (TF) is a protozoan that infects bovines (cattle). It is considered a venereal disease in that industry. It was first discovered in felines in 1996 but was not associated with diarrhea in felines at that time. As best as I can learn it appears that Dr Jody Gookin made (or suspected?) this association in 1999. The other researcher investigating TF is Dr Stan Marks at UC Davis. Why TF was not considered more widely as a cause of diarrhea in cats until very recently is a mystery to us.
What is TF?: A TF protozoan organism which looks very similar to Giardia so if viewed by in a fecal smear a misdiagnoses of Giardia is common. Fecal floats and Giardia snap tests are insensitive to TF. TF is a fragile organism whose life span out of the body is normally less than an hour. This lack of hardiness is due to the fact that TF cannot form a cyst (as can Giardia). If TF drys out, if it is refrigerated or if it experiences temperatures above 105F it will die. Obviously bleach will kill it too but it will probably be dead by the time you clean the surface. The primary infection path is probably the litter box where a well timed use by two cats can transfer the parasite fecal/orally. Dr Gookin has commented that TF can live for 3-4 days in a wet stool (wet is the key word).
Symptoms: TF lives in the intestinal lining of the large bowel. It causes cow pie like stool that is often gassy and malodorous. Several breeders have commented that in symptomatic cats that the smell of the stool is a significant clue of an infection. The health of an infected cat is not usually adversely affected. It is important to note that an infected cat may or may not have clinical signs of TF. We had a TF positive female that had good stools.
Testing: There are three testing methods. The least sensitive method is a microscopic examination of a fecal smear. The probability of detecting TF in an infected cat has been estimated to be less than 20%. Additionally two other organisms, Giardia and Pentatrichomonas hominis may confuse the diagnosis.
The gold standard of TF testing is a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. A stool sample can be sent to Dr Gookin's vet college (http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/mbs/gookin_file1.pdf) for a PCR test. This is a very sensitive but unfortunately very expensive ($100/ test) test.
Alternatively you or your vet can use the BioMed InPouchTF test (www.biomed1.com/). This test is about $5/test. This test is simple to perform and if multiple tests are required this is the only sensible economic approach.
Prognosis: Until Dr Gookin published her findings last year there was no effective drug treatment. Dr Gookin has stated that “Most cats have spontaneous resolution of diarrhea in two years. More than half the cats remained positive for presence of the organisms however, up to 4-years after diagnosis and possibly many can carry the infection for life." In a multiple cat environment this could mean an endless cycle of reinfection.
Treatment: The drug of choice is ronidazole (RDZ). The dosage is 30-50 mg/Kg twice a day for 14 days. Their are few suppliers of this drug but one source is Westlab Pharmacy (www.westlabpharmacy.com/). Westlab is a compound pharmacy, they will make up RDZ capsules of the correct dosage. Capsules are preferred as it is not advised to mix RDZ with food as it has a bitter taste. RDZ seems to be well tolerated by felines but there have been some incidences of temporary neurological problems, usually at higher dosages. Those treating with RDZ should also consider the effect of weight gains during this 14 day period, especially in kittens. Weight gains during the 14 day treatment period may cause the dose to go sub-therapeutic (i.e. below 30 mg/Kg). As for other side effects, I have received one email reporting that their cat experienced liver failure while on RDZ. Fortunately it was reversible and the cat returned to normal. It is not known if this cat was treated within the recommended dosage range. Their are some, not necessary the one who had the liver problem, who in an effort to save costs who are using RDZ formulated for pigeons which at a 10% concentration. Accurate measuring and dosing with this form of RDZ may be difficult. We have experienced no adverse side-effects nor has any others been reported to us. Westlab have said that they have had reported to them some temporary neurological symptoms in a few cases but in large side-effects are few.
Post Treatment Testing: We begin testing 10-14 days after RDZ treatment. We wait this time period to make sure that no residual RDZ is present to bias the test. We are repeating the test approximately every 14 days afterward. We expect to lengthen this period slowly until 20 weeks is reached. Since cats have sensitive guts diarrhea (and vomiting) are not unusual occurrences in cats. If we observe any loose stool we test it. So far these events have been transient and these tests have all been negative.
The information sources: Material published by Dr Jody Gookin (www.cvm.ncsu.edu/mbs/gookin_jody.htm) and email correspondences with her. Addition information was obtained from the folks at BioMed (www.biomed1.com) and Westlab Pharmacy (www.westlabpharmacy.com/). Also experiences and the experiences of other breeders who are corresponding with us were included. Neither I nor any breeder I know would suggest that anyone, in matters of feline health, treat there cats independently of their vet.
Additional TF information:
Dr Gookin's TF paper: www.cvm.ncsu.edu/mbs/gookin_file2.pdf
Dr Gookin's June 2005 RDZ treatment paper: www.cvm.ncsu.edu/mbs/gookin_file4.pdf