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Experts discuss latest feline infectious disease threats at European Congress

Global authorities in the area of feline medicine have come together for the 18th annual ISFM (International Society of Feline Medicine) congress, held in Cavtat, Croatia, to discuss the latest trends in feline infectious diseases and in particular, the growing threat of feline lungworm across Europe.

At the event, Bayer Animal Health presented the latest research on feline lungworm, providing unique insights into the diagnosis of Aelurostrongylus abstrusus and the treatment and control of the different lungworm species – which are all a growing concern in feline medicine.

Three main feline lungworm parasites can infect the feline respiratory system; Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, Troglostrongylus brevior and Capillaria aerophila. A recent study has shown the combined prevalence of the feline lungworm parasites to be 10.6% in European domestic cats.

Professor Manuela Schnyder, University of Zurich, Switzerland, a parasitologist and speaker at the Bayer symposium, highlighted this, focusing on A. Abstrusus: “The prevalence of lungworm infections in cats caused by the parasite Aelurostrongylus abstrusus is generally underestimated. It should always be considered, especially in cats showing respiratory signs, however, pathological changes may also occur when no clinical signs are apparent.’’

Prof. Schnyder explained that cats with asymptomatic infections can be at risk of severe acute respiratory distress in the peri-operative period, with reports of cases that have only become apparent when issues are encountered during anaesthesia for routine surgeries.

However, even when clinical signs are present, diagnosis of feline lungworm isn’t always straightforward. Clinical signs and thoracic radiography changes can both be non-specific, sometimes leading to a misdiagnosis of feline asthma or chronic bronchial disease. In addition, false negatives are possible with faecal screening as shedding can be absent or intermittent. Therefore, veterinarians should consider serology.  

Professor Donato Traversa, EBVS® European Veterinary Specialist in Parasitology, University of Teramo, Italy, added:

“Aelurostrongylus abstrusus remains the most important nematode affecting the cardio-respiratory system of cats worldwide, with a prevalence of 8.2% within Europe; however, Troglostrongylus brevior and Capillaria aerophila should not be forgotten, and diagnosis to species level is advised to enable the appropriate treatment to be selected. Apparently healthy cats exposed to risk factors should be screened regularly for lungworms, especially in endemic areas where regular preventive measures should be considered.”

In addition to providing veterinarians with effective treatment options for aelurostrongylus abstrusus and capillaria aerophila, Bayer Animal Health is committed to supporting the scientific knowledge development of feline medicine through collaboration with global organisations, thought leaders and veterinarians.

Aelurostrongylus abstrusus can be treated effectively with two applications of Profender®, when administered two weeks apart. Advocate® is the only antiparasitic licensed for the treatment of Capillaria aerophila in Europe, treating in a single dose. Both products, along with Seresto®, have been awarded the ISFM Easy to Give Award – marking Bayer’s commitment to providing effective parasite treatment and prevention solutions for cats.

Bayer Animal Health are also extending their veterinary education programme by providing blog content to help raise awareness on the diagnosis and treatment of feline lungworm, and practical advice on managing lungworm in practice.

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