College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type

Campus Access Only



First Advisor

Julie Paxon


Chronic rhinitis is one of the most frequently diagnosed causes of feline upper respiratory disease. Currently, it is believed that cats develop chronic rhinitis after an initial infectious agent, space occupying tumor, or a traumatic lesion causes irreversible damage to nasal turbinate structures. This damage is so severe that infected cats become predisposed to a lifetime of chronic secondary disease. However, researchers lack a thorough understanding of the etiologic and pathogenic agents involved in this condition. While previous studies have primarily used culture techniques to screen for infectious organisms, these assays often cannot identify suspected pathogenic bacteria; which are difficult to grow in culture or only present in the nasal cavity in trace amounts. In contrast, a PCR-based assay can be used to screen infected tissue specimens for small quantities of pathogenic DNA .Thus, this technique may provide a more sensitive and reliable means of investigating disease etiology and pathogenesis in chronic rhinitis cats. In this study, I have developed an optimized protocol to extract DNA from paraffin embedded feline nasal biopsy samples, and used PCR to screen for various viral and bacterial agents in these preserved tissue specimens. Specifically, I investigated if M. felis, P. multocida, C. felis, B. bronchiseptica, or FHV-1 were present in tissue samples from cats with idiopathic vs. neoplastic origins of disease. I hypothesized that cats with different initial causes of disease would likely exhibit different patterns of secondary infection, and that a PCR-based assay could be used to identify these trends. In order to test this hypothesis, I ran multiple PCR reactions on nasal biopsy samples from nasal lymphoma and idiopathic rhinitis cats. Cats in both study populations tested positive for exposure to M.felis, C. felis, and P. multocida, in similar proportions, while cats with nasal lymphoma exhibited a higher degree of B. Bronchiseptica exposure than idiopathic cats. All cats in both experimental groups tested positive for FHV-1. To better interpret the significance of these findings, I will conduct additional trials which involve the usage of PCR to screen for the presence of these viral and bacterial agents in nasal biopsies derived from healthy cats.