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Cytauxzoonosis in Cats

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Cytauxzoon felis is a protozoal type parasite that affects cats and is most often diagnosed in the southeastern United States. The parasite is transmitted by ixodid ticks. After being bitten by an infected tick, the parasite will affect white blood cells and red blood cells. Over time, profound anemia occurs.

What to Watch For

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Jaundice
  • Pale gums

    Diagnosis

    Blood tests are often done to determine the underlying cause of illness in affected cats. Blood tests often reveal anemia and elevated white blood cell counts. Low platelet counts may also be found. Microscopic examination of the blood cells will reveal the parasite if special stains are used. Microscopic exam of various biopsies may also reveal the parasite.

    Treatment

    Profound anemia is a common finding in cytauxzoon infections. Hospitalization, intravenous fluids and blood transfusions can help the infected cats but does not cure the disease. Currently, imidocarb is being used to try to eliminate the parasitic infection but, so far, cats diagnosed with cytauxzoon typically do not survive.

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is no home care for cytauxzoon. Veterinary care is strongly recommended to give the cat the best chance at recovery. Preventing cytauxzoon is key. Do not allow your cat access to outdoors and prevent tick exposure.

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