There’s a new treatment option for the deadly feline disease cytauxzoonosis, and the timing couldn’t be better. With the rising spread of lone star ticks—known carriers of cytauxzoonosis—across the country, more cats are being exposed to the disease, and without proper treatment, the outcome is bleak. But two veterinary researchers, Drs. Leah Cohn and Adam Birkenheuer, of the University of Missouri and North Carolina State University, respectively, have developed a more effective treatment method.
“Previous treatment methods have only been able to save less than 25 percent of infected cats, but our method, which is now being used by veterinarians across the country, has been shown to save about 60 percent of infected cats,” Cohn says. “While that number isn’t as high as we’d like due to the deadly nature of the disease, our method is the first truly effective way to combat the disease.”
The new treatment is a combination of an antimalarial drug plus an antibiotic, given orally for 10 days with supportive care. However, although this method has a higher success rate than previous treatments, Dr. Cohn recommends that pet owners take preventive measures to keep their cats healthy and out of harm’s way. Keeping cats indoors is the best approach, she says, but veterinarians and owners should also discuss feline-specific tick preventives. In addition, owners should consider tick preventives for dogs in the household, since they can bring infected ticks into contact with house cats.
For more information on cytauxzoonosis and its treatment, call the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine at (573) 882-7821.