Cats and parasites: situation in Italy.
Parasites infecting cats include protozoa, helminths and arthropods. Many are also transmissible to humans. Effective control relies on knowledge of parasite distribution and risk factors for infection. The present study was aimed at evaluating prevalence of major feline parasites in Italy. Over a 12-month study period, thirteen study centers across Italy analyzed feces, hair and ectoparasites from naturally infected cats coming from feral colonies, shelters and private households. Samples from 987 cats were analyzed by all centers using the same diagnostic methods. The overall prevalence of infected cats was 58%. Toxocara cati was the most prevalent species, 25,6%, followed by hookworms. Approximately 36% of the study population was infested by ectoparasites. The most common were fleas, followed by Otodectes cynotis. This study confirms the need to protect the human-animal bond using proper endo- and ecto-parasiticides to reduce the risk of human infection and the fundamental role of practitioners.