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Mycoplasma in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Diagnosis In-depth

Certain tests must be performed for a definitive diagnosis of Mycoplasma infections and to exclude other disease processes that may cause similar symptoms. A complete history, description of clinical signs and thorough physical examination are all an important part of obtaining a diagnosis. In addition, the following tests are recommended to confirm a diagnosis:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) may be within normal limits, but it may reveal mild anemia (low red blood cell count), and/or elevated white blood cell count.

  • A biochemical profile will help evaluate the kidney, liver, protein and electrolyte status. Although often within normal limits, it is helpful to rule out other disorders that may mimic Mycoplasma.

  • A urinalysis helps to evaluate the kidneys and level of hydration. Some individuals may have proteinuria (protein in the urine) if the kidneys are involved.

  • Chest and abdominal X-rays are recommended in most cases. Although often within normal limits, they may help to rule out other diseases or confirm changes that relate to Mycoplasma infection, such as pneumonia.

  • Serologic testing may be helpful in diagnosing Mycoplasma. It necessitates a blood test, which reveals a value measuring the strength of a reaction between certain substances in the body. High values may be suggestive of Mycoplasma infection.

  • Cultures specific for Mycoplasma can be obtained from affected tissue or fluid. Special care needs to be taken in sampling, handling and shipping, as Mycoplasma is a delicate organism and can be difficult to isolate.

    Your veterinarian may require additional tests to insure optimal medical care. These are selected on a case by case basis:

  • Arthrocentesis is recommended in cases where joint involvement is present. It is a simple procedure that is performed by introducing a needle into the joint cavity to retrieve fluid for analysis and culture. This may rule out other causes of arthritis or have changes consistent with a diagnosis of Mycoplasma infections. This procedure can generally be performed by your local veterinarian.

  • Transtracheal washes are recommended in those patients with pneumonia. It is a simple procedure that allows us to evaluate cells and sometimes causative agents involved with pneumonia. This procedure can generally be performed by your local veterinarian.

    Therapy In-depth

    Appropriate therapy for Mycoplasma infections varies according to the type and severity of clinical illness. Depending on the severity of clinical signs and/or stage of disease, hospitalization may or may not be recommended. Patients who are severely ill and dehydrated are hospitalized for aggressive treatment and stabilization. Stable patients can be treated as outpatients as long as they are monitored closely for response to therapy. With appropriate therapy, most patients do quite well. It is very important that all recommendations by your veterinarian are followed very closely, and any questions or concerns that arise during the treatment protocol are addressed immediately.

    Therapy may include:

  • Antibiotic therapy is of utmost importance in these patients. The most common antibiotics used are tetracycline, choramphenicol, tylosin and erythromycin. It is important to treat for an extended time period to eradicate infection completely.

  • Intravenous fluids

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