Case Report

Fatal disseminated toxoplasmosis in an immunocompetent cat

Susanna S. Nagel, June H. Williams, Johannes P. Schoeman
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 84, No 1 | a299 | DOI: | © 2013 Susanna S. Nagel, June H. Williams, Johannes P. Schoeman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2012 | Published: 14 February 2013

About the author(s)

Susanna S. Nagel, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort campus, South Africa
June H. Williams, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort campus, South Africa
Johannes P. Schoeman, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort campus, South Africa

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A 10-year-old domestic short hair cat was referred for investigation of anorexia and polydipsia of 3 days’ duration. Clinically the cat was obese, pyrexic (39.8 °C), had acute abdominal pain and severe bilirubinuria. Haematology and serum biochemistry revealed severe panleukopenia, thrombocytopenia, markedly elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and five-fold increased pre-prandial bile acids. Ultrasonographic evaluation of the abdomen did not identify any abnormalities. Serum tests for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) were negative. Broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment for infectious hepatitis was to no avail; the cat deteriorated and died 72 h after admission. Necropsy revealed mild icterus and anaemia, severe multifocal hepatic necrosis, serofibrinous hydrothorax, pulmonary oedema and interstitial pneumonia. Histopathology confirmed the macroscopic findings and revealed multifocal microgranulomata in the brain and myocardium, as well as areas of necrosis in lymph nodes and multifocally in splenic red pulp. Long bone shaft marrow was hyperplastic with a predominance of leukocyte precursors and megakaryocytes and splenic red pulp showed mild extramedullary haemopoiesis. Immunohistochemical staining for Toxoplasma gondii was strongly positive, with scattered cysts and tachyzoites in the liver, lymph nodes, spleen, lungs, brain, salivary glands and intracellularly in round cells in occasional blood vessels. Immunohistochemical staining for corona virus on the same tissues was negative, ruling out feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on formalin-fixed paraffin-wax embedded tissues was positive for Toxoplasma sp., but attempts at sequencing were unsuccessful. This was the first case report of fulminant disseminated toxoplasmosis in South Africa, in which detailed histopathology in an apparently immunocompetent cat was described.


cat; disseminated; hepatitis; immunocompetent; immunohistochemistry; PCR; Toxoplasma gondii


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