College of Veterinary Medicine researchers identify new parasite
By Sarah Carey
UF researchers have identifi ed a new species of Tritrichomonas in domestic cats, distinguishing the parasite that causes the disease in felines from the agent long thought to affect both cats and cattle.
Although the disease is just beginning to be understood and tested for in cats, it costs cattle producers millions of dollars each year in lost revenue, researchers say.
“Up to now, there has only been one species, Tritrichomonas foetus, described in the reproductive tract of cattle and the intestine of cats,” said Heather Walden, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. “We conducted experimental studies putting the feline isolate in cows and the bovine isolate in cats, and saw differences in the disease-causing capacity in each of these animal hosts.”
These studies, combined with molecular analysis of a small group of genes with similar sequencing patterns in cats and in cattle, noted key differences between the species. The study and findings appeared online in a recent issue of Parasitology Research. Walden named the newly discovered species Tritrichomonas blagburni in honor of Byron Blagburn, Ph.D., the Auburn University professor who was her mentor and led her doctoral studies there.
Feline trichomoniasis is an intestinal disease that results in chronic diarrhea, flatulence and fecal incontinence. Bovine trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease of cattle that infects the reproductive tract of cows, causing uterine infections and possible mid- to late-term abortions.