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Category: Inflammatory/Infectious

Feline Vector-Borne Disease (FVBD) in Cats with Acute Onset Fever
June 30, 2015 (published)
Barbara Qurollo

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Study Start Date: 06/01/2015
Study End Date: 12/31/2017

Feline Vector-Borne Disease (FVBD) in cats with acute onset fever

In North America, fleas, mosquitoes and ticks are considered the most important vectors for transmission of infectious agents that can induce disease in dogs and humans, however, with the exceptions of Bartonella henselae, Cytauxzoon felis, Dirofilaria immitis and Mycoplasma spp., many of these vector-borne pathogens have not been detected or have been minimally studied in cats. Anaplasma, Babesia, Borrelia, Ehrlichia and Rickettsia species infections in cats remain poorly defined. Potential factors contributing to this include fewer flea and tick-borne disease point-of-care diagnostics validated for use in cats and veterinarian presumptions of less vector-borne disease in cats when compared to dogs. A prospective study designed to specifically evaluate cats with acute onset fever for evidence of infection with a wide range of flea and tick-borne pathogens, including organisms uncommonly tested for in cats, could greatly impact how veterinarians test for and treat cats with acute onset fevers.

Study Design:
Prospective cross-sectional study

Sample Size:
250 cats

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Fever (rectal temperature between 103 - 106°F), for which the cause is not obvious from the cat's history and physical examination (such as traumatic wounds or subcutaneousabscessation).
  • The cat must have a CBC and a biochemistry panel blood work performed at the time of presentation (not necessary at the follow-up visit).
  • The cat must have outdoor access or have had exposure to fleas and ticks in the past; +/-flea and tick prevention; +/-the presence of fleas or ticks at time of examination.
  • Fever and blood collection must occur during the months of March through November.
  • The cat's owners are willing and able to return for follow-up examination and blood draw for FVBD testing at ~ 30 days after the initial evaluation

Exlcusion Criteria:

  • Treatment with antibiotics or anti-rickettsial drugs during the 4 week period before this evaluation.
  • Obvious causes of fever including traumatic wounds or subcutaneous abscessation (tissue necrosis).
  • Owners cannot return for follow-up examination at ~ 30 days after the initial evaluation

Blood samples can be collected at the primary veterinarian’s office. The patient does not need to be presented to NCSU to be eligible.

Collect at least 1-2 ml of whole blood in EDTA and 2 ml of separated serum from each cat in each evaluation (If the cat/kitten is severely anemic, smaller volumes of 0.5 mL can be sent). Pack samples in leak-proof plastic bags, separated from questionnaires and laboratory test results. Include paperwork with samples.

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The study will cover the cost of both Feline Comprehensive Panels which includes: serology testing for B. henselae, B. vinsoni, B. koehlerae (by IFA); a commercially available in-clinic ELISA (SNAP® 4DX® Plus) to detect Anaplasma genera, Ehrlichia genera, Dirofilaria immitis and Borrelia burgdorferi. PCR (DNA) testing to detect presence of Babesia, Bartonella, Cytauxzoon, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and hemotropic Mycoplasma organisms.

Veterinarians will be provided with the results of the testing.

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Full Disclosure Information:
The study is funded by a grant from IDEXX.
The investigator has a conflict of interest, specifically Edward Breitschwerdt owns a diagnostics company, Galaxy Diagnostics.
Dr. Breitschwerdt lectures on this topic for IDEXX
Barbara Qurollo's salary is supported by IDEXX.
The study will be published if results are negative
The study will not be reported on VIN
The authors will acknowledge VIN if the study is published

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