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Rickettsial Infections in Cats

Bayliss, D. B., A. K. Morris, et al. (2009). “Prevalence of Rickettsia species antibodies and Rickettsia species DNA in the blood of cats with and without fever.” J Feline Med Surg 11(4): 266-70.

The purpose of the study was to determine if cats with a fever were more likely to have evidence of rickettsial infection than healthy, age-matched, control cats with no fever. Fever was determined to be a body temperature of over 102.5F (39.2C). The prevalence of Rickettsia species DNA in blood from clinically ill cats has not been determined. Rickettsia species antibodies have been detected in some cats but it is unknown whether infected cats develop clinical signs. Fever in humans has been attributed at times to “stealth” organisms that can evade the immune system, cause subtle clinical signs, and are not easily detectable by traditional diagnostic methods. Investigators questioned whether Rickettsia species might fill such a role in cats. The cat flea has been identified as a host and biological vector of R. felis and the question of whether the flea may be capable of transmitting the organism to cats is unanswered. The study results did not show an association between fever in cats and Rickettsia species DNA in blood or serologic evidence of exposure to R. felis. It would be optimal though to collect samples from clinically ill cats more than one time to further study this issue. [VT]
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Related articles:
Hawley, J. R., S. E. Shaw, et al. (2007). “Prevalence of Rickettsia felis DNA in the blood of cats and their fleas in the United States.” J Feline Med Surg 9(3): 258-62.
>> PubMed Abstract

Kamrani, A., V. R. Parreira, et al. (2008). “The prevalence of Bartonella, hemoplasma, and Rickettsia felis infections in domestic cats and in cat fleas in Ontario.” Can J Vet Res 72(5): 411-9.
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