Aelurostrongylus abstrusus antibody seroprevalence reveals that cats are at risk of infection throughout Germany
Cats infected with the metastrongylid nematode Aelurostrongylus abstrusus may show clinical signs ranging from mild to severe respiratory disease or remain unobserved, despite damages present in the lung tissue. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence and distribution of A. abstrusus in cats by testing serum samples from all over Germany to identify potential risk areas and strengthen disease awareness accordingly. Sera of 2998 cats were screened for the presence of antibodies against A. abstrusus by ELISA, and the data were evaluated by a geographic information system to visualise the regional distribution of the analysed samples. Overall, 12.0% of the samples tested positive (361/2998 cats, 95% confidence interval: 10.9-13.3%). Seropositive cats were identified throughout the country, suggesting that all cats in Germany with outdoor access are at risk of A. abstrusus infection and that the infection is overall underdiagnosed. Increased testing for A. abstrusus infection would allow earlier detection of infected animals, hence improving the life quality and health of cats and preventing potential death under anaesthesia.