Cat is one of the most popular pets all over the world with an estimated population number of over 74 millions. In Cyprus, an island of the Mediterrenean Sea, there is a large cat population. Although, for many decades, there is a worldwide intense research activity regarding the parasitesof cats, no research on the parasites of the intestinal and respiratory tract of cats in Cyprus have been conducted until recently.
However, in 2017, a study entitled “Occurrence and zoonotic potential of endoparasites in cats of Cyprus and a new distribution area for Troglostrongylus brevior” has been published in the scientific journal Parasitology Research [Parasitol Res. 2017, 116(12):3429-3435. doi:10.1007/s00436-017-5651-3]
The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of pulmonary and intestinal parasites of cats in Cyprus, in order to fill in the gap of relevant information in this area of Europe. A total of 185 cats from 5 districts of Cyprus were included. Individual faecal samples of 48 exclusively indoor living cats and 137 cats with outdoor access were examined by classical parasitological methods. The morphological identification of lungworm larvae was confirmed by PCR.
Parasites were found in 66 cats (35.7%) i.e. Toxocara cati (12%), Cystoisospora rivolta (12%), Joyeuxiella/Diplopylidium spp. (7%), Giardia spp. (6.5%), Troglostrongylus brevior (5%), Cystoisospora felis (2.5%), Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (2%), Taenia spp. (0.5%), Dipylidium caninum (0.5%). Mixed infections were found in 18 cats (9.7%). Parasites were found in 4 of 48 indoor cats and in 61 of 137 cats with outdoor access.
This study showed that a high percentage (35.7%) of cats in Cyprus are infected by intestinal or pulmonary parasites, some of which may have an impact on human health (i.e. Toxocara cati, Dipylidium caninum, Giardia spp.). Furthermore, cats who had outdoor access were more likely to be infected, while cats who had received an antiparasitic treatment in the last 6 months were less likely to be infected.
In addition, this study revealed that T. brevior, a respiratory nematode of felids, is presenting on the island. Until recently, T. brevior was considered a parasite of wild felids. However, in recent years, it has been found that domestic cat is also a host for this parasite in some areas. More precisely, T. brevior has been found before in Italy, Spain, Greece and Bulgaria. This study render Cyprus the easternmost distribution border of this parasite in Europe to date. As infection of this parasite in young cats are more likely to be severe and life threatening, there is an acute scientific interest for T. brevior.
More research on T.brevior is expected the next years. Interestingly, the life cycle is not fully described and there is evidence of vertical transmission that needs further confirmation and clarification. It is thus important, thet the veterinary practinioners keep a vigilant eye on the correct and timely diagnosis of troglostrongylosis.