Mueller EK, Baum KA, Papeş M, Cohn LA, Cowell AK and Reichard MV. Potential ecological distribution of Cytauxzoon felis in domestic cats in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. Vet Parasitol. 2013; 192: 104-10.
Cytauxzoon felis is a tick-borne parasite that can cause a fatal infection in cats. The natural host of the organism is the bobcat and it is transmitted to domestic cats by the Lone Star tick. The disease – cytauxzoonosis – affects only cats and is not found in other animals such as dogs or in people. However, the disease appears to be increasing in occurrence in some parts of the country.
Cats with cytauxzoonosis become suddenly ill with lethargy and loss of appetite within days or weeks of the tick bite. Most cats become seriously ill and die, with anemia, jaundice, dehydration, and enlarged liver and spleen. Recent studies have shown that some cats survive infection and not all cats develop signs of illness.
These investigators looked at the distribution of the organism in 3 states where it occurs most commonly: Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. Using mathematical modeling, they determined that there is a high probability that the organism can be found from central Oklahoma to south central Missouri. Additional modeling based on the presence of the tick vector as well as the bobcat reservoir showed a broader distribution in the region than that indicated by infection of cats alone. The researchers conclude that the potential for C. felis infection exists in a wider area than that indicated by past cases of infection alone. [MK]