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is commonly found in cats, but in recent years the pathogen Streptococcal equi subsp zooepidemicus, which usually affects horses, has been shown to be present in pigs and dogs with increasing frequency in felines as a result of immunodepression due to Streptococcal canis or other forms of stress. The compromised health of the feline can lead to secondary bacterial infections that can be critical or fatal.
Streptococcal infection, also known as Streptococcal canis, is a commensal and extracellular pathogen common to 10-30% of the feline population within the nasal cavity with chronic upper respiratory infections. However, it can be a severe life-threatening disease if not treated properly. Though first found in horses, it has recently been found in cats also. The pathogen primarily affects cats living in close quarters such as shelters or closed colonies, but it can also affect older, single household cats, or young, breeding females who may pass it on during the birthing process. While highly treatable, it can result in death if not addressed in an aggressive manner.
Symptoms of streptococcus infection may include:
It is possible that a cat will not exhibit any symptoms and yet is a carrier of the pathogen.
The pathogen is opportunistic and can evolve into several forms.
Aerosol transmission is not known to be a primary agent in spreading the pathogen. Transmission occurs mainly from contact with infected objects or droplets, or from the reactivation of an existing herpesvirus due to stress.
Diagnosis of Streptococcal infection in cats is largely based on overlapping clinical evidence rather than affirmative testing. Such evidence includes colony or shelter health history, planned husbandry or infectious disease protocol changes, individual observation of symptoms and clinical history if any, environmental conditions, and current legal issues concerning the shelter or colony owner (hoarding investigation, liability, etc.).
Because Streptococcal infection does not typically appear in individual cats, it is up to a shelter, cattery, or colony owner to report to a veterinarian if there has been a persistent outbreak of upper respiratory infections, herpesvirus, or necrosis of the feet.
A newly developed RT-PCR test, which tests for active and non-active viruses in real time, is also used in diagnosis. Swab samples are taken from the oral cavity, pharynx, bronchial tube, lungs, or wherever lesions have occurred. An individual negative test result will likely rule out any acute infection suspicion, but a positive test result is hard to differentiate from a normal cat’s health. Therefore, a group sampling of 5-10 cats is recommended to establish a firm diagnosis in relation to an expected prevalence of the pathogen within a population.
Because the RT-PCR test is only recently become widely available to veterinarians, there is no data upon which a doctor can refer to check for acceptable levels, therefore, leaving the doctor to determine a diagnosis mainly based on clinical evidence in cooperation with the honesty of the owner.
Early intervention with broad-spectrum antibiotics that contain a gram negative spectrum aimed at secondary infections is essential once infection is suspected. The course of antibiotics should be adjusted as treatment progresses. All newly admitted cats should be examined and treated as well. Overtreatment of antibiotics or the use of a variety of regimens should absolutely be avoided and only administered if the disease is reasonably suspected.
Repeated and regular rounds of household bleach-based products have proven to be effective at rendering the pathogen inactive. Products such as Virkon® and accelerated hydrogen peroxide reportedly contain detergent properties that other products do not and is, therefore, even more effective. Quaternary ammonium cleansing is also effective at removing the pathogen from the environment. However, it can create toxicity in the cats as well as mimic the symptoms of severe upper respiratory infection.
Isolation of the affected feline from the healthy population is important for prevention of spreading. In-cage containment is effective if the cage can genuinely be removed from the general population. Removal to a separate room is also valuable and will help with treatment as well. Quarantine containment should be maintained until two weeks after symptoms have completely resolved.
Following suggested treatment, recovery from Streptococcal infection can occur within 2-3 weeks. However, it is absolutely essential that stress reduction measures be implemented or tightened or else a recurrence of the disease can easily emerge.
Unfortunately, at this time there is no known vaccine to prevent Streptococcal infection in cats. Certain topical treatments and amino acid therapies are being tested, but no conclusive evidence of prevention is apparent yet.
Keeping the cat as stress-free as possible is a critical element to treating and preventing an outbreak. Stress suppresses the immune system and allows the pathogen to manifest or even to recur after expected recovery. Allowing the cat to stay within the same cage as much as possible helps with reducing stress as does regular spot cleaning instead of broad-based cleaning methods. Socialization, reduction of overcrowding, ample access to healthy food and clean water, and regular grooming also help.
Because the pathogen is activated within the respiratory system, excellent air quality is essential in any shelter or colony environment. Regular use of clean filters along with proper ventilation will help prevent transmission.
Continuous practice of disinfection of the shelter or colony is important to preventing an outbreak and managing its transmission after an outbreak occur.
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Streptococcal Infection Average Cost
From 421 quotes ranging from $150 - $350
0 found helpful
We recently had to give up a cat to a shelter to try and get I adopted. It was happy and healthy, it also had sentimental value as it was owned by my father-in-laws sister who passed away recently. Several days later we found out the cat was going to be put down so we decided to pick it up and found out it was sick. Runny nose, discharge in the eyes, sneezing, skinny, and a lot of hair loss. We took it home and it seems to be stabilizing and losing less hair, but we can't afford to take it to the vet for antibiotics and a checkup. Can cats make it through these situations on their own and fight off these infections? At this point if it's dropped off it will most likely be put down, not an easy situation to deal with.
Aug. 17, 2018
Without examining Bianca, I cannot give you an indication of what exactly is happening; cats commonly pick up infections in shelters. Whilst some infections may be self limiting many, especially severe infections, would require a course of antibiotics for either the main bacterial infection or a secondary infection. Money can be tight, but you need to visit a Veterinarian; think about a charity clinic or low cost clinic (Google search) to get Bianca the care she needs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Aug. 17, 2018
0 found helpful
My kittens are about 4 weeks old and they have had their eyes open but the past couple of days they can barley open one what can I give them to help this problem
May 31, 2018
Rolly Polly's Owner
Eye infections are common in kittens, however you didn’t mention if there were any discharge or other symptoms; the closed eyes and the inability to move the hind legs is concerning. It would be best to pop into your Veterinarian to be on the safe side since more than one kitten is affected. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
June 1, 2018
0 found helpful
My cat has profuse streptococcal infection and candida. It appears his immune system is non-existent (possibly from birth). He gets sick occasionally and we have tried Sporanox and Penicillin but he was vomiting and liver markers were high. He has also got a peg tube and mega oesophagus. Currently on B12 injections as levels low
March 16, 2018
Candidiasis is rare in cats but may occur due to a compromised immune system, itraconazole is a treatment of choice however other treatments may also cause liver toxicity so it can be difficult to make a recommendation; as for the Streptococcal infection, a change to a different type of antibiotic may be best. These types of infections can be difficult to treat in normal cases, however CJ’s circumstances may make it more difficult. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
March 16, 2018
0 found helpful
Hello, I have a problem with a fellow RagaMuffin Breeder and she has been trying to find a way to ruin my reputation so others will not buy my cats for Breeding. She has a cat of mine which is her new stud, (Cupid) and recently he produced a litter. I heard through the "grapevine" that she is saying that he has "Strep G" and one of the kittens died. She said that she and her vet are working hard to save a second one. I sent her an email and asked her about it and she in fact said that he tested positive for "Strep G". I asked her to have her vet send his records to my vet and of course, she didn't. She kept lying in the emails and later she admitted that she did not test him because there wasn't time if they wanted to save a second kitten that was struggling. She kept telling me that I needed to treat my entire cattery with Clindamycin. I asked her if "Cupid" was sick, showing signs or symptoms of Strep G but she would not answer me. Now, she has written to several other RagaMuffin Breeders to inform them of this fact. I have continually researched Strep G and I get mixed information, so I do not know how to discredit her allegations. I don't have sick cats. I haven't adopted out kittens that have been sick. She attached information from a website to these Breeders which again has mixed messages. Can you tell me what I should do? Should I have my cats tested? Do you know an Expert in the field of Strep G? Thank you so much, Tammy
Jan. 24, 2018
In cases like this, it is more of a legal problem than a medical problem (although there may be a serious medical issue); I always recommend consulting a Lawyer since your professional reputation is at stake and they will advise you of the best course of action to ensure that your reputation remains intact and to discredit the other breeder’s claims without opening yourself up to legal problems. In addition to speaking with a Lawyer, you should also consult your Veterinarian; also, if you are part of a reputable breeding organisation you should ask them to investigate the claims (after consulting a Lawyer). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Jan. 25, 2018
0 found helpful
I process cat adoptions for a local rescue. An applicant adopted a cat from us about three years ago that died at age 4. The ER vet who saw her in October only had in the record that she had a fever; they did not make any diagnosis. Her regular vet reports that in the following February, she was brought in with sores on her body, and she was vomiting and losing weight. They ran a test that showed she had streptococcus. They gave her an antibiotic and recommended that if things got worse, she should see a specialist for surgery. The sores seemed to be improving slightly but then they brought her back about a week later because she was not having bowel movements. At that time, they opted for euthanasia. My question: Does this bacteria stay alive in the home for a period of time? The cat was euthanized about four months ago, and they want to adopt two new kittens. Are there any disinfecting measures that they should take prior to bringing home the kittens?
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