Feline patent Toxoplasma-like coccidiosis among feral cats (Felis catus) in Doha city, Qatar and its immediate surroundings
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Doha city has a high feral cat population and studies of hospital records in Doha have shown that human toxoplasmosis also occurs. Clearly, there is a need to understand the role of cats as vectors of human toxoplasmosis in the city and as a first step we assessed the extent of patent Toxoplasma-like coccidial infections among feral cats. Oocysts in cat faeces were detected between June 2008 and April 2010, from a range of locations radiating out of the city centre in concentric semi circular/elliptic rings and by north, west and south divisions within each of the rings. In total 4,652 cats were sampled and overall prevalence of oocysts was 9.1%. Prevalence was 10.1% in the first summer, and then dropped to 8.4% in the following winter and further to 6.8% in the next summer before rising to 10.6% in the final winter of the study; this interaction between annual period and season was significant. There were also significant changes in prevalence across each of the consecutive months of the study, but no clear pattern was evident. Prevalence did not vary significantly by city sector and there was no difference in prevalence between the host sexes. We conclude therefore, that despite minor and significant perturbations, the prevalence of patent Toxoplasma-like coccidial infections among cats in Doha is remarkably stable throughout the year, across years and spatially within the city’s districts.