A prospective clinical trial evaluating efficacy and long-term outcome of treatments for lymphoplasmacytic gastritis in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) was conducted. The study evaluated efficacy of 11 different antibiotic and antiinflammatory treatment protocols in 32 cheetahs (19 male, 13 female) for reducing gastric inflammation and Helicobacter colonization and monitored the course of disease through histologic grading of gastric biopsies. All cheetahs were biopsied up to 1 wk before treatment and then rebiopsied within 1 mo after treatment. Most animals were reassigned to a second treatment regimen within 6 mo. Each animal received from one to three treatments during the study period. After the trial, gastric biopsies were obtained from each cheetah annually until death or transfer from the facility to assess disease progression. The trial and follow-up period spanned 10 yr. At onset of the trial, all 32 cheetahs had some degree of gastritis, and 26 cheetahs (81%) were colonized with Helicobacter. Inflammatory lesions worsened regardless of treatment or the presence of Helicobacter. No treatment had a significant effect on inflammatory changes except the lansoprazole/clarithromycin/amoxicillin treatment group, which produced a short-term decrease in inflammation when compared to controls. Prednisone had no effect on gastric inflammation. Overall, 65% of colonized cheetahs were initially cleared of histologic evidence of Helicobacter by treatment, with short-term eradication occurring in 100% of the animals treated with omeprazole/clarithromycin/amoxicillin or tetracycline/metronidazole/Pepto-Bismol for 28 days. Long-term follow-up of treated animals in this study clearly demonstrated that these treatments had little effect on life-long progression of gastritis or on Helicobacter burden in individual cheetahs, although some treatments provided short-term reduction in gastritis and Helicobacter. These results provide evidence that Helicobacter alone is not the cause of gastritis in cheetahs and do not support the use of antibacterial treatments in cheetahs unless significant clinical signs (e.g., frequent vomiting/regurgitation, weight loss) are apparent.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3