Diarrhea and Kitten Mortality
Approximately 900,000 children worldwide die each year due to diarrhea. One of the common causes of diarrhea in children is typical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and is associated with a higher risk of death.
Kitten mortality, especially in a multi-cat or shelter environment, was a large concern in 2011 when Winn's scientific review committee awarded funding for Dr. Jody Gookin's research on this condition. Kitten mortality is often attributed to diarrhea but the role of atypical EPEC (aEPEC) in diarrhea has been uncertain. Dr. Gookin subsequently identified enteroadherent EPEC in the intestines of deceased kittens. She and Dr. Victoria Watson went further and studied the prevalence and type of EPEC and whether this infection was associated with diarrhea, diarrhea-related mortality, gastrointestinal pathology or other risk factors.
Their recent publication identifies that aEPEC is prevalent in kittens and a significant cause of intestinal inflammation, diarrhea, dehydration, and associated mortality in kittens. Kittens with aEPEC are significantly more likely to require subcutaneous fluid administration. The more we learn about this potentially life-threatening infection in kittens, more can be done to prevent or successfully treat this condition. More kittens can survive.