Molecular detection of Chlamydia felis in cats in Ahvaz, Iran.
Chlamydiae are obligate generally Gram-negative intracellular parasites with bacterial characteristics, including a cell wall, DNA, and RNA. They have a worldwide distribution in different animal species. Chlamydia felis (C. felis) is an important agent with zoonotic susceptibility often isolated from cats with chronic conjunctivitis. The aim of the present survey aimed to determine the molecular occurrence of C. felis in cats in Ahvaz, Iran. In this regard, a total of 152 cats (126 households and 26 feral) were included in the current study. After recording their history information, two swabs were taken from the oropharyngeal cavity and eye conjunctiva of the investigated cats. The extraction of DNA was followed by PCR targeting the pmp gene of C. Felis. In the next step, the positive samples were sequenced based on the Gene Bank. Out of 152 samples, 35 (23.03%) were positive using polymerase chain reaction technique (95% CI: 16.30-29.70). Regarding infection with Chlamydiosis, the obtained results showed a significant difference between cats suffering from ocular or respiratory diseases (44.64%; 25 out of 56) and the healthy ones (10.42%; 10 out of 96; P=0.01). The prevalence of infection was significantly higher in cats younger than 1 year (34.12%; 29 out of 85), compared to those older than 1 year (8.96%; 6 out of 67; P=0.02). No significant difference was noted in terms of gender (25.45% in males and 21.65% in females), breed (23.81% in DSH and 19.23% in Persian), and lifestyle (22.22% companions [28 out of 126] and 26.92% ferals [7 out of 26]; P>0.05). It can be concluded that a significant number of cats are infected with C. felis in Ahvaz. The use of molecular tests, such as PCR, has revolutionized the diagnosis of chlamydial infections.