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Old 10-03-2008, 03:02 AM
ashleywong ashleywong is offline
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Default Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

dear all

in an earlier thread, i wrote about how dangerious mites/flea bites can be, that it's more than an annoying itch for our pets and us. my nicky was struck by this "myterious" illness until the vet confirmed it's an infection in the blood from a bacteria spread by flea/mite/tick bite.

i've done some "googling" and managed to track down some information on this bacterial infection of the blood due to flea/mite/tick bite. It's called Haemobartonellosis!

pls understand the following are articles found on the internet and are not meant to be a substitute for veterinary medical advice. please consult your vet when in doubt or need more clarification or advice.

always use flea/tick/mite control product under vet advice and supervision for these are also considered poison to our beloved pets.

no further delay : read on :

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Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

What is haemobartonellosis?

Also known as Feline Infectious Anaemia (FIA), until recently, the organism responsible for feline infectious anaemia was known as Hemobartonella felis. Since reclassification, it has been discovered that there are in fact two species of "mycoplasma" which are individually known as Mycoplasma Haemofelis (also known as large strain) & Candidatus Mycoplasma Haemominutum (also known as small strain). Collectively they are known as Feline Haemoplasmas.

M. Haemofelis can cause illness in healthy cats, however C. Mycoplasma Haemominutum appears to be more of an opportunistic parasite, typically infecting cats with an underlying condition such as FIV or FeLV.

Feline Haemoplasmas are microorganisms in the class Mollicutes; which are an unusual group of bacteria. They have no cell wall & most of them live within or on the host cell. It is not possible to culture Feline Haemoplasmas because they cannot survive outside the host cell.

Feline Haemoplasmas attach themselves the wall of red blood cells. The body's immune system tries to destroy these parasites but in the process also destroys the affected red blood cells, causing anaemia.

What are the symptoms of haemobartonellosis?

Symptoms vary depending on the number of red blood cells infected, the stage of the parasitic infection, the health status of the cat & the rapidity & of infection, but can include;

*

Anaemia
*

Loss of appetite
*

Weakness
*

Pale mucous membranes (ie: pale gums)
*

Weight loss
*

Jaundice
*

Fever
*

Enlarged lymph nodes
*

Enlarged spleen

Untreated, FIA can cause death.

How do cats become infected?

Infected queens can pass on the infection to their kittens although it's not entirely known if it is in utero, during the birth process or via the milk.

The natural mode of transmission is thought to be via fleas & ticks, bite wounds may also spread the infection between cats.

It is possible for cats to become infected during a blood transfusion.

How is haemobartonellosis diagnosed?

There are two methods to test for haemobartonella.

Stained blood smear: A thin film of blood is stained & studied under a microscope for the presence of organisms on the red blood cells. However, this can result in a false negative as the infection seems to come about in cycles, so several blood samples taken over a period of days may be required.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This is a test which detects the organism in the blood. It greatly amplifies the DNA of the organism, even in small amounts.

How is haemobartonellosis treated?

Antibiotics oxytetracycline or doxycycline.

Treatment with a glucocorticoid such as prednisolone may also be prescribed to diminish the immune-mediated component of the disease process.

Severely anaemic cats may require blood transfusions.

Carrier Cats:

Recovered cats can still carry the organism in small numbers in their blood, although they will show no clinical signs. They may have a relapse in the future, especially under times of stress or they may remain free of the disease for life.

How do I prevent haemobartonellosis in my cat?

Proper flea & tick control on your cat, including keeping the environment free of parasites.
***********************************
Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Holly Nash, DVM, MS
Veterinary Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.




Haemobartonellosis is also known as feline infectious anemia or feline hemotropic mycoplasmosis. It is a tick transmitted (and sometimes flea transmitted) disease. Haemobartonellosis targets the red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen.

What causes haemobartonellosis?

Haemobartonellosis in cats is caused by Mycoplasma haemofelis, formerly known as Haemobartonella felis. Cats may also become infected with another organism called M. haemominutum, but it is less likely to cause disease. Both are not typical bacteria, but belong to a group of microorganisms called mycoplasma, which are the smallest free-living type of 'germs.' Both M. haemofelis and M. haemominutum are termed "hemotropic mycoplasmas" or "hemoplasmas" because they are blood(hemo)-associated(tropic).

How are M. haemofelis and M. haemominutum transmitted?

Fleas and ticks become infected with these mycoplasma by feeding on an infected animal. When the flea or tick then feeds on another animal, the mycoplasma are passed on. Because they live in the blood cells, they could be spread via a blood transfusion from an infected animal to a noninfected one. In the cat, the mycoplasma can also be spread from the queen (mother cat) to her kittens. They may also be spread through cat bites - male cats, cats that roam, and cats less than 4-6 years of age appear to be at higher risk of becoming infected.

What are the signs of haemobartonellosis in cats?

In the cat, the disease can run the spectrum from being very mild, with no symptoms or only a slight anemia, to a disease that is very severe. Signs often include depression, loss of appetite, and dehydration. If severe, the pronounced anemia could result in weight loss, pale mucous membranes, weakness, fast heart and respiratory rates, jaundice, and death. Some owners report their cats start eating litter or dirt. Cats who are infected with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) are more likely to have severe disease. Without therapy, some cats with haemobartonellosis die from the severe anemia.

Some cats can recover from the disease but become carriers of the organism. This means the cats look healthy but still have small numbers of these mycoplasma in their bodies. If these cats are stressed, it sometimes causes the organisms to multiply and produce disease.

How is haemobartonellosis diagnosed?

Sometimes the organism can be seen inside cells on a blood smear. To find them, a small drop of blood is spread over a microscope slide, stained and examined under the microscope. The number of organisms in the bloodstream can fluctuate dramatically. There can be many observed in one sample, and a sample taken two hours later may reveal none. A polyermase chain reaction (PCR) blood test to detect these hemotropic mycoplasmas in cats is available.

How is haemobartonellosis treated?

Antibiotics such as tetracycline, oxytetracycline, or doxycycline are given for three weeks. Although it may seem contradictory, in cats with a rapid course of disease, large doses of prednisolone may sometimes be given to suppress the destruction of the red blood cells by the body. In some animals, it is necessary to give one or multiple transfusions.

How is haemobartonellosis prevented?

As with other diseases transmitted by fleas or ticks, flea control and tick control are the foundations of prevention. Products which repel and kill ticks and fleas such as those containing pyrethrin, etofenprox, or similar ingredients (Bio Spot Spon-On for Cats) ) are excellent choices. Frontline kills ticks, but does not repel them. Keeping cats indoors will likely prevent infection.

Can people get haemobartonellosis?

There have been no reported cases of haemobartonellosis in people, although organisms resembling hemotropic mycoplasmas have been found in people with suppressed immune systems.


References and Further Reading

Sykes, JE. Feline hemotropic mycoplasmosis (feline haemobartonellosis). Veterinary Clinics of North America - Small Animal Practice, 33;(4, July 2003): 773-789.

Messick, JB. New perspectives about Hemotropic mycoplasma (formerly, Haemobartonella and Eperythrozoon species) infections in dogs and cats.

Veterinary Clinics of North America - Small Animal Practice. 33;(6, Nov. 2003): 1453-1465.
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Old 10-03-2008, 11:05 AM
ashleywong ashleywong is offline
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Hi all

for those who hope to find out more about this illness that strikes two of my cats in my other thread , i've started this thread with that intention : to share and informed

there's a reason i posted additional thread. the thread may not have the full veterinary information and is certainly not intended to substitute veterinary advice.

but i feel that it is serious enough to warrant a separate thread to get people's attention.

this week marks th 4th week that nicky is still stricken with this horrible illness. no, actually it marks his 6th week (is it? i lost count of time completely) and ginger's 2nd week. well, it's definitely more than a month already. he didn't recover completely when he was off the medication (during observation). his platelet count dropped below 200 to 110 only and that's bad.

he's back on another 2 weeks of medication and he's due for blood test every week.

the bacteria may or may not completely clear from his system and it will be a long battle to help his own immune system hold it under control.

aside from the medical bills that worries me, what worries me as well is that it may never clear from his system completely and is only held at bay by his own immune system. my cat could become a carrier and anytime that he is stressed with low immune capability, this ugly illness could rear its ugly head again. it's like he's carrying a time bomb.

i finally was free enough (free from work and other worries) this two holidays to do a check on the net. didn't turn up much but these two articles which i posted in this thread. but what i read confirmed my own worry.

this illness is serious enough to warrant attention because the bacteria attacks the red blood cells and if the body's immune system try to attack the bacteria, it's attacking its own red blood cells and this in turn makes the cat sick - making it anaemic and giving rise to a potential series of complication.

i've asked my vet - is it very uncommon? because it wasn't detected earlier in nicky. she said, no it's actually quite common, many other pet cats get it but what is different with nicky is the "presentation" - the symptoms appeared different from the usual associated with this illness and of all places, the bacteria only showed up in his lymph nodes...(we haven't reached the stage where we had to biopsy his other organs and take a complete blood test).

this led me to think - common because it is not a serious illness or common because a lot of cat owners allowed their cats to get exposed to fleas/mites/ticks bite and therefore either unwittingly, unknowingly or through serious deficit of common sense or compassion for their cats expose them to the risk of this illness via flea/tick/mite bite.

i do admit that i was in error last time, while i was never lax in ensuring my cats were protected from fleas/mites/ticks by using the appropriate medication every month, i was lured into false sense of comfort out of ignorance thinking it's just bites

but now i know better and i do understand why my vet frequently advice all cat owners who passed through their clinic of the importance of ensuring the cats are protected from fleas/ticks/mites

and it's not just through using medication like advantage or frontline.

all it need is just a bite from an infected flea/tick/mite. that's all. or a scratch or bite from an infected cat. or your cat picking up the bacteria from the area he frequents while outdoors, probably spread by through the poop of an infected homepet or stray cat. and when he grooms his own paws, he ingested the bacteria. you'd never know...so many ways for the bacteria to get to your cat

are you sure you're vigilant enough? are you sure you're careful enough? are you sure you're doing enough to protect your cat?

the best is to remove your cats from most the conditions by keeping your cat indoor and also keeping up a regular timetable of using products like frontline or advantage ...all with veterinary advice and supervision of course.

nicky is watching me type right now, he's doing well on his medication although it's stressful for him when we feed it to him - it taste so bad he literally foamed at the mouth and it pained us to stress him up so much but it does the trick and today, he's very alert and keen, he's much intrigued by the way the cursor is flying across the screen. normally he'd join me in typing a sentence or two but today he's just contented to lie down and observe from his "townhouse" ( a cubicle in my bookshelf) behind me.

if you care for your cat, do the right and proper thing - with veterinary advice please - read the other article i posted on flea medication.

in the meanwhile keep safe...
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:07 PM
Dunker Dunker is offline
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

FIA is a interesting disease, in fact the reclassification of the organism from rikettsial to a mycoplasma was done only recently.
To answer one of your question about how common the disease is:
The organism itself is very common in local cats. The thing is in a majority of cats that carry these organism, the symptoms of FIA does not happen or are so mild the owners and vets do not detected it. By itself the disease is very easily managed and prognosis is good but with complications of other diseases, which is very often the case, it gets that much harder for the vets. Like your vet said, the presentation of your cat was not typical of FIA and that in itself is the hallmark of FIA coz FIA flares up when your cats immune system cant handle it, for example while fighting of another unrelated infection. Perhaps one day, UPM may be able to fund a final year thesis for its students where by a large sample of stray cats are to have their blood evaluated via PCR thus providing vets data as to how common this organism is in this country. i know in the UK they have done it but the exact figure eludes me.

As of 2002 (i did not followup on this issue after 2002), both organism, M. hemominutem and M. hemofelis were NOT detected in fleas, or mites even by PCR. Thus effectively means we don't actually know how this organism spreads. It was only inferred that fleas may be the vector because almost all the sick cats during the study had fleas. so while i agree with you flea controle and general health care of cats is important but it in no way grantees that your cat does not harbor the organisms.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:27 PM
ashleywong ashleywong is offline
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Hi Dunker

thanks for the additional info. it's very helpful and it helps to put a better perspective on it.

hmm, if flea is only the suspected vector and the real culprit unknown, then it makes it all the more "undetectable" until when it's half way raging through the system.

this sort of describe my cat's condition - they don't have fleas/mites/ticks yet they have this - where they contracted this is as good a guess as anyone.

aside from nicky, ginger is also down with this. we at first suspected ginger to be the "carrier" and "spread it" to his sibling but when ginger returned home after his 6 months dissapearence - he was checked thoroughly and no signs of mites/ticks/fleas bite or infestation, a clean bill of health.

your idea is a very good one and i hope the veterinary medical faculty in our university will hopefully take up this study. it'd be useful information and a great step forward for the vets and pet owners alike.

till then...

btw, is there any vaccination for FIA?
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Old 10-09-2008, 10:46 AM
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Good info on Haemobartonellosis,ashley...and as far as I know, there is no vaccines to prevent FIA in cats yet...
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Old 10-09-2008, 10:53 AM
ashleywong ashleywong is offline
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

I see,

in that case, we pet owners have to work with what we know and what we have and that means it behoves all of us, as responsible pet owners, regardless of our background and financial status, to ensure that we give our furkids the best for their health, not only physical health but mental health as well.
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Old 10-09-2008, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleywong View Post
I see,

in that case, we pet owners have to work with what we know and what we have and that means it behoves all of us, as responsible pet owners, regardless of our background and financial status, to ensure that we give our furkids the best for their health, not only physical health but mental health as well.
Yup, keeping the cat indoor and good flea products will lessen the chances, I guess..
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleywong View Post
Hi all

this led me to think - common because it is not a serious illness or common because a lot of cat owners allowed their cats to get exposed to fleas/mites/ticks bite and therefore either unwittingly, unknowingly or through serious deficit of common sense or compassion for their cats expose them to the risk of this illness via flea/tick/mite bite.
and it's not just through using medication like advantage or frontline...
I have a bit of a problem with this comment. First of all, flea and tick is not the only way this is transmitted. This can be transmitted to a kitten through it's mother. When a cat has this disease, it doesn't mean "cat owners allowed" this to happen. Talk about lack of compassion to other owners who love and care for their pets very much.

My cat is in the hospital right now because of this. He's never had fleas. He is only 1 year old. This disease is not detectible until they start to get weak. Many times, due to stress, this disease elevates. This happened in our case. When we got McQueen from a shelter, he came to us with a cough. We took him to the vet for this and he could not find anything except to say he might have a kitty cold. We ran blood tests and everything. He recently got fixed. My mom went away for 1 week and he immediately became depressed. I think this is the point the disease multiplied. Being alone without my mom for 8 hours stressed him out.

To any owner out there that has this happen to their cat and they've done all they can, you are all good owners and not careless. Sometimes things are beyond our control. Yes, sometimes it is because of carelessness but in my case and many others, it's not.

Missy, you need to be more compassionate to other owners and not judge how people care for their cats.
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Old 10-11-2023, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis) in Cats

Sweetie has been treated multiple times for diagnosed hemoplasma. Every time she had antibiotics, she did improve, but then it came back with a vengeance shortly after each treatment.

She had about four courses of just the antibiotic type, doxycycline, along with anti-inflammatory and anti-sickness medications.

After months of stressing her by taking her back and forth to vets, along with the side effects of being tired and looking worn out, she was tried with different antibiotics with steroids, and I saw much better improvement in her while on them and she lasted a short while longer before needing to be seen by a vet. Also, since the last prescription of antibiotics, she has taken a 1mg steroid every other day, but I don't think this is helping her in any way now, unlike before when she was on a higher dose; it seems pointless giving it to her as I'm seeing no benefit, unlike at the start when the dosage was higher.

The Bisolvon Powder that I still currently put on her food makes her cough and sneeze, and she ends up struggling more with the sneezing fits brought on by this type of medication. I hate giving it to her, as she looks to be in more distress when eating it, making it even harder to breathe and chew.

She is now back to sleeping most of the day. Her eyes look very tired. A low, slow walk only to drink, eat, and go to the toilet She did play when on the last type of antibiotics (something she hadn't done in years) and a higher amount of steroids. She sat up proud and perkier in her walk and greeted me when I arrived home every day. Now she looks like she is back to square one, like she is going to die any moment or wants me to put her out of her misery due to the ups and downs, ongoing suffering of struggling to breathe due to blocked sinuses, wheezing (even though at every vet visit she has had many, they said her chest sounded clear), coughing and sneezing fits, seeming exhausted all the time, no energy, not happy one bit. She looks depressed.

I need to know what to do. What options are left?
What is the best course of treatment for her now? The virus is relentless and does not go away for good. All the medications are doing is making it settle while it lays dormant to come back with a vengeance once the antibiotics are out of her system.
I feel like I am doing the wrong thing by letting her suffer without treatment and also by how bad it has an effect on her when it comes back once treatments have ended. Also I have to keep taking her to the vet, as this really stresses her out.

I have another cat who shows no signs of infection, could she keep being re-infected by him?

My cats do not have fleas and haven't had them in over 8 years.
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