Parasitic Disease Carried by the Bobcat and Transmitted by the Tick is More Prevalent Than Believed

It appears that, in America, cat owners may have to reassess the possibility of their cat being infected by a very nasty protozoan blood parasite which is often fatal and which is injected into the cat when bitten by a tick. The reassessment may be required because if cat owners thought that ticks were not a problem in their state they may find that this disease has advanced to the place where they are living.

The disease is cytauxzoonosis. It is caused by the protozoan blood parasite cytauxzoon felis. The infection normally causes a very severe illness and often death. All cats are susceptible to the infection and the infection has not been reported in other species of animal.

Bobcats are the reservoir host. It is believed that bobcats have developed a resistance to the infection. They develop a short lived illness and then recover. They are then a persistent carrier. When a tick feeds on an infected bobcat, the tick acquires the protozoan parasite. When the tick then feeds on a domestic cat the infection is passed to the cat.

The particular species of tick is the lone star tick. This is thought to be the predominant vector of this disease.

It is reported that many cats die within 24 hours of attending a veterinary clinic for treatment. The infection causes multi-organ failure and death within three weeks of infection.

USA Cytauxzoonosis map
USA Cytauxzoonosis map
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The red areas of the map shows the states where this disease has been reported in domestic cats. The pink areas are where the disease has been reported to be in bobcats only.

Vets advise that cats should be kept indoors and if they go outdoors cat owners should use tick control products approved for cats. Initial symptoms are: lethargy, anorexia and fever. Within days the symptoms progress to breathing problems, severe weakness and “neurologic dullness”.


7 thoughts on “Parasitic Disease Carried by the Bobcat and Transmitted by the Tick is More Prevalent Than Believed”

  1. Oh my Lord-as if we didn’t have enough to worry about.Nasty protozoans! Cats also can carry toxoplasmosis

    internet research:___________________
    Toxoplasma gondii is found throughout North America and can infect almost any warm-blooded animal or bird, and humans. Infection with T. gondii, a condition called toxoplasmosis, can be very serious in humans. T. gondii can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and cause abortions and congenital defects. An estimated 400 to 4,000 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis occur in the United States each year. In children and adults, it can cause other signs, and is sometimes fatal. It can cause severe disease in persons with poor immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or infected with human immunodeficiency virus (the virus that causes AIDS). It is estimated that approximately 11% of persons in the US have been infected with Toxoplasma gondii_that’s 11% of the population.

    • The thing to keep in mind about toxoplasmosis is that you are more likely to get it from working in your garden than from your indoor-only cat. Cats only shed it for a couple of weeks, so if you’ve kept your cat inside for more than that, you are OK. Also, even if you suspect it, all it takes is to wear gloves while cleaning a litter box and then wash your hands. Besides, I suspect anybody who’s played in a sandbox as a child has had it.

  2. Sorry, but I find this not credible.
    Firstly, as well known, most domesticated cats in America are kept inside, never to experience the great outdoors.
    Secondly, since I live in an area populated by bobcats, I have never witnessed any feral just “drop over” from any parasite.

  3. Well, I’m relieved that my cats and I are not in those areas but I’m very sad for everyone who is. Also, it wouldn’t take much for it to spread to more states: a ride on a train, in a car… This is horrible.


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