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Feline Tick-Borne Rickettsiosis
Rickettsia spp are obligate intracellular gram-negative bacteria that are divided into the spotted fever group and the typhus group. In the United States, cats can be infected by Rickettsia felis and have been shown to have antibodies against R. rickettsii, which is tick-borne.47 In Spain, R. conorii and R. massiliae antibodies were found in cat serum and DNA amplified from cat blood, suggesting that cats could play a role in the life cycles of these agents or be clinically affected.48 In one study of cats with fever, we showed R. felis and R. rickettsii antibody prevalence rates in cats in the United States to be 5.6% and 6.6%, respectively, but DNA of neither organism was amplified from blood.47 These results prove that cats are sometimes exposed to spotted fever group organisms but further data are needed to determine significance of diseases associations. Because clinical illness in cats from spotted fever organisms has not been documented, optimal treatment is unknown. Based on results in dogs with R. rickettsii infection, however, doxycycline or a fluoroquinolone would be logical choices. The evidence for spotted fever agents in cats in the United States and Europe provides further evidence that acaricides should be used in cats as these agents can cause zoonotic infection in humans.
Tick control is warranted for cats as well as dogs. Products with efficacy against fleas should also be used because fleas can be vectors for several Bartonella spp, potentially the hemoplasmas, potentially Coxiella burnetii, (Cypress), R. felis, and Yersinia pestis.
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2. Smith FD, Wall LE. Prevalence of Babesia and Anaplasma in ticks infesting dogs in Great Britain. Vet Parasitol. 2013;198:18-23.
3. Pennisi MG, Persichetti MF, Serrano L, et al. Ticks and associated pathogens collected from cats in Sicily and Calabria (Italy). Parasit Vectors. 2015;7;8:512.
4. Díaz-Regañón D, Villaescusa A, Ayllón T, et al. Molecular detection of Hepatozoon spp. and Cytauxzoon sp. in domestic and stray cats from Madrid, Spain. Parasit Vectors. 2017;10:112.
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13. Lappin MR, Huesken R, Stanneck D. Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi infections in cats exposed twice to Ixodes scapularis. Parasit Vectors. 2017, in review.
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17. Qurollo BA, Balakrishnan N, Cannon CZ, et al. Co-infection with Anaplasma platys, Bartonella henselae, Bartonella koehlerae and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ in a cat diagnosed with splenic plasmacytosis and multiple myeloma. J Feline Med Surg. 2014;16:713–20.
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19. Levy SA, O’Connor TP, Hanscom JL, et al. Evaluation of a canine C6 ELISA Lyme disease test for the determination of the infection status of cats naturally exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi. Vet Ther. 2003;4:172-177.
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26. Lloret A, Addie DD, Boucraut-Baralon C, et al. European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases. Cytauxzoonosis in cats: ABCD guidelines on prevention and management. J Feline Med Surg. 2015;17:637-641.
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28. Gallusová M, Jirsová D, Mihalca AD, et al. Cytauxzoon infections in wild felids from Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic Space: further evidence for a different Cytauxzoon species in European felids. J Parasitol. 2016;102;377-380.
29. Meinkoth J, Kocan AA, Whitworth L, et al. Cats surviving natural infection with Cytauxzoon felis: 18 cases (1997-1998). J Vet Intern Med. 2000;14:521-525.
30. Rizzi TE, Reichard MV, Cohn LA, et al. Prevalence of Cytauxzoon felis infection in healthy cats from enzootic areas in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Parasit Vectors. 2015;8:13.
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An Urban Experience

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