Deadly disease defeated by UF vets

Veterinary staff at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital say they have successfully treated a cat infected with deadly cytauxzoonosis, aka "bobcat fever," for the first time.

The 5-year-old domestic shorthair cat, Franky, was brought to his veterinarian’s office after his owners noticed him behaving strangely. When Frankys condition began deteriorating, he was brought to the UF for further tests. UF pathologists found the presence of Cytauxzoon felis, an organism that is thought to live in bobcats, and is transmitted through ticks. The survival rate of infection for domestic cats is considered low.

Franky was very sick for several days, the UF said. Diuretics were used to get rid of fluid in his lungs and oxygen was administered for two days. The cat became anemic and experienced severe gastrointestinal bleeding that resulted in two blood transfusions during his weeklong hospital stay, the university reported. Franky was treated with antiprotozoal drugs, antibiotics and nutrition administered through a feeding tube.

After being released back to his owners, Frankys condition continued to improve, and follow up appointments indicated that he had fully recovered.

The treatment that the UF veterinarians used to treat Franky was presented in a study by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM), the university said. In the study, researchers looked at 80 cats suffering from cytauxzoonosis. Those treated with a combination of the antiparasitic drug atovaquone and the antibiotic azithromycin (A&A) had a better overall survival rate than cats treated with the antiprotozoal agent imidocarb.

According to the study, 60 percent of cats treated with A&A survived to hospital discharge, while only 26 percent of those treated with imidocarb survived to discharge.

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