Cats beware: Protozoan disease carried by ticks showing up in Tennessee

Associated Press • Jul 1, 2013 at 4:24 PM

CHATTANOOGA — A Hamilton County veterinarian says she is treating more cases of a nearly always-fatal tick-borne disease that affects domestic cats.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dr. Darlene White, of the Wolftever Pet Hospital, in Harrison has treated three of the cases in two years.

The disease is Cyteaxzoonosis (sy-toh-zoh'-oh-NOH'-sis), which is caused by protozoa carried by American dog ticks.

"It's a horrible death," White said.

The infected cats develop fevers up to 106 degrees and then hemorrhage, she said. A cat's normal body temperature is 101-102 degrees.

Dr. Michael Lane, of the Regional Institute for Veterinary Emergencies and Referrals, said he, too, believes vets are seeing more instanced of the disease.

"In the past it has been considered pretty rare. I'd usually see a handful of cases," Lane said. "Over the past two to three years, I feel like we were seeing more. ... I don't know if we're looking for it more or it's becoming more prevalent in our area."

Because the host for the disease is bobcats, most the cases come from rural areas.

Cats should be combed for ticks daily. A tick repellant offers some protection. There is no cure for the disease.

Lane said research shows it does not spread from one cat to another.

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