Hemotropic mycoplasmas (hemoplasmas) have been found infecting cats worldwide. However, studies about feline hemoplasma infections in Spain are scarce. Therefore, the purpose of the research was to evaluate the prevalence of feline hemotropic mycoplasmas and to characterize risk factors and clinical findings associated with these infections in a cat population from the Madrid area, Spain.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was employed to detect Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf), "Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum" (CMhm) and "Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis" (CMt) in blood samples from 456 client-owned and 138 stray cats from Madrid. In order to assess associations between these hemoplasma infections and epidemiological parameters, data regarding signalment, environment, prophylaxis measures, retrovirus status, clinical signs and laboratory findings were compiled, whenever possible.
DNA of feline hemoplasmas was detected from the blood of 63 out of 594 cats (10.6%), with a prevalence of 3.7% (22/594) for Mhf, 8.1% (48/594) for CMhm and 0.5% (3/594) for CMt. Stray cats had statistically higher prevalences of feline hemoplasmas (15.9%) and, specifically, of Mhf (8.7%) than client-owned cats (9 and 2.2%, respectively). A total of seven cats (1.17%) were co-infected with "Candidatus M. haemominutum" and M. haemofelis, two (0.33%) with "Candidatus M. haemominutum" and "Candidatus M. turicensis" and another one (0.17%) with M. haemofelis and Candidatus "M. turicensis". Male gender, collection of blood during warm months and FeLV/FIV positivity status were associated with hemotropic mycoplasma infection in cats from Madrid. Additionally, within the group of client-owned cats, hemoplasma infection was associated with adult age, outdoor access, and the existence of low haematocrit, erythrocyte count and haemoglobin concentration values.
To our knowledge, this is the first epidemiological survey of feline hemoplasmas performed in central Spain (Madrid). Our study confirms that "Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum", Mycoplasma haemofelis and "Ca. Mycoplasma turicensis" are infecting client-owned and stray cats in this region of Spain, "Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum" being the most prevalent species. More studies are necessary to help understand the role of the natural infection by these species of hemoplasma in cats.