4/24/2013 8:16:00 PM Cat Clinic reports fi rst case
of fatal tick disease
This map shows where confi rmed cases of the deadly, parasitic, feline infection Cytauxzoonosis occurred in the Stillwater area from 2000 to 2006. The heaviest concentrations are found near waterways and wooded areas that would support both Bobcats, the parasite’s natural host, and the ticks that carry the infection to domestic cats.
By Michelle Charles
Veterinarians at The Cat Clinic have reported this year's first case of a deadly tick-borne disease that kills up to 12 of their patients in a bad year.
Cytauxzoonosis is caused by a single-celled parasite that's carried from its natural host, Bobcats, to domestic cats by ticks. The infection is almost always fatal and tick medicines won't kill them fast enough to prevent transmission.
The symptoms include depression, lethargy, refusing to eat, fever, jaundice and anemia, according to information supplied by The Cat Clinic.
The disease affects the liver, spleen, lungs and lymph nodes before entering the blood stream and infecting the cat's red "It's horribly painful," Dr. Annette Cowell said. "Cats cry. It's ugly."
Most will die within a week of showing symptoms and symptoms begin about five to seven days after infection.
Cowell said she has to perform a blood test to diagnose Cytauxzoonosis and she advises owners of infected cats about their options and probable outcomes.
Those who choose treatment transfer their animals to the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Hospital where the animal can receive aggressive treatment and ICU care.
The treatment is expensive and very few survive. OSU is conducting research on the disease, which was discovered in Missouri in the 1970s and has since spread throughout the south, in the hopes of fi nding an effective treatment, she said.
For now, the best strategy is prevention by keeping your cats indoors during the spring and fall.
Cowell said she usually starts seeing cases in April and they peak through May and June before dropping off during the hot, dry months of late summer.
They start showing up again in October, she said. Treating even your indoor cats with an insecticide like fipronil (Frontline) and checking them daily for ticks is important. The ticks have to be removed as quickly as possible.
"Alerting as many people as possible is ultimately what will save these cats," she said.