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Understanding Cytauxzoon Infections in Cats

  • April 30, 2014 5:19 PM EDT

    Cytauxzoon felis is the cause of a fatal disease of cats that is transmitted by ticks such as the lone star tick. Little is known about the immune response to this organism. Cats that die from this disease often have pneumonia that is believed to be induced by an over-zealous immune response to the pathogen. These researchers investigated the systemic response of cats to infection with C. felis. They found that concentrations of proteins that promote the inflammatory response were elevated in cats that died of C. felis as compared to cats that survived C. felis infection.


    In addition, certain cell surface molecules elevated in inflammation were also elevated in cats that died from C. felis infection. In contrast, antibody levels to the parasite were lower in cats that did not survive. The researchers concluded that the inflammation associated with C. felis infection may play a role in the tissue damage associated with disease, while the antibody response is low, contributing to the survival of the parasite. Thus, immune mediated lesions may contribute to the disease caused by C. felis.

    Reference:  Frontera-Acevedo K, Balsone NM, Dugan MA, et al. Systemic immune responses in Cytauxzoon felis–infected domestic cats. Am J Vet Res 2013; 74:901-9.