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Feline Red Blood Cell Parasites

Tasker S, Peters IR, Papasouliotis K, et al. Description of outcomes of experimental infection with feline haemoplasmas: copy numbers, haematology, Coombs’ testing and blood glucose concentrations. Vet Microbiol. Nov 18 2009;139(3-4):323-332.

Feline hemoplasma infections are caused by three separate organisms that infect red blood cells, but only one of these, Mycoplasma haemofelis, causes hemolysis with significant disease. However, investigation of clinical parameters following experimental infection with each of the three organisms has not been done. The investigators studied ten cats infected with Mycoplasma haemofelis (“HF” group), three cats infected with candidatus M. haemominutum (“HM” group), and three cats infected with candidatus M. turicensis (“TU” group). The cats were followed for 85 days post infection. Using quantitative PCR, they found the TU cats had significantly lower amounts of organisms in their blood than the other groups, and were negative for the organism by 45 days after infection. All HF cats developed significant anemias. While HM and TU group cats did not have anemia or clinical signs, both groups experienced a drop in red blood cell levels for the first three weeks post infection. Only the HF cats had positive results on the Coombs assay, indicating the presence of antibodies to red blood cells. Severe hypoglycemia has been reported in some animals other than cats following hemoplasma infections. In this study, blood glucose levels for all three groups remained in the normal range. While the size of the groups was small, particularly the HM and TU groups, this study does demonstrate the increased pathogenicity of M. haemofelis compared to the other hemoplasmas. [MK]
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Related articles:
Peters IR, Helps CR, Willi B, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Tasker S. The prevalence of three species of feline haemoplasmas in samples submitted to a diagnostics service as determined by three novel real-time duplex PCR assays. Vet Microbiol. 2008;126(1-3):142-150.
>>PubMed Abstract

Sykes JE, Terry JC, Lindsay LL, Owens SD. Prevalences of various hemoplasma species among cats in the United States with possible hemoplasmosis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. Feb 1 2008;232(3):372-379.
>>PubMed Abstract