• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
J Feline Med Surg. May 2010; 12(5): 369–381.
PMCID: PMC2880789

Haemotropic mycoplasmas

What's their real significance in cats?

Abstract

Practical relevance

The feline haemotropic mycoplasmas (‘haemoplasmas') are a group of bacteria that can induce haemolytic anaemia in cats. Mycoplasma haemofelis is the most pathogenic of the species; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ are less pathogenic. The natural route of transmission of feline haemoplasma infection has not been confirmed, but fleas are implicated. When disease results, common clinical signs are pallor, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, depression, dehydration and pyrexia. Treatment with tetracyclines or fluoroquinolones is usually effective at resolving clinical disease, but clearance of infection may not result.

Global importance

The feline haemoplasmas are found worldwide, although prevalence varies geographically.

Patient group

Older male non-pedigree cats are believed to be at increased risk of haemoplasma infection, although younger cats are possibly more likely to show clinical disease associated with M haemofelis.

Clinical challenges

The significance of feline haemoplasma infection is difficult to determine due to the existence of asymptomatic carrier cats and the variable pathogenicity of the haemoplasma species. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results should be interpreted in the light of the patient's clinical signs and haematological findings, infecting haemoplasma species and level of haemoplasma DNA present in the blood. Trial antibiotic treatment for haemoplasmosis may be warranted in suspected cases while awaiting PCR results.

Evidence base

Aspects of feline haemoplasmosis, particularly risk factors, pathogenesis, diagnostic methods and treatment, have been the focus of much recent research. This article draws on the current evidence base with a view to helping clinicians diagnose and manage cases more effectively.

References

1. Sykes J.E., Drazenovich N.L., Ball L.M., Leutenegger C.M. Use of conventional and real-time polymerase chain reaction to determine the epidemiology of hemoplasma infections in anemic and nonanemic cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2007;21:685–693. [PubMed]
2. Sykes J.E., Terry J.C., Lindsay L.L., Owens S.D. Prevalences of various hemoplasma species among cats in the United States with possible hemoplasmosis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008;232:372–379. [PubMed]
3. Tasker S., Peters I.R., Papasouliotis K. Description of outcomes of experimental infection with feline haemoplasmas: copy numbers, haematology, Coombs' testing and blood glucose concentrations. Vet Microbiol. 2009;139:323–332. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
4. Willi B., Boretti F.S., Baumgartner C. Prevalence, risk factor analysis, and follow-up of infections caused by three feline hemoplasma species in cats in Switzerland. J Clin Microbiol. 2006;44:961–969. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
5. Tasker S., Caney S.M.A., Day M.J. Effect of chronic FIV infection, and efficacy of marbofloxacin treatment, on ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ infection. Microbes Infect. 2006;8:653–661. [PubMed]
6. George J.W., Rideout B.A., Griffey S.M., Pedersen N.C. Effect of preexisting FeLV infection or FeLV and feline immunodeficiency virus coinfection on pathogenicity of the small variant of Haemobartonella felis in cats. Am J Vet Res. 2002;63:1172–1178. [PubMed]
7. Hornok S., Meli M.L., Gonczi E. First molecular identification of ‘Candidatus mycoplasma haemominutum’ from a cat with fatal haemolytic anaemia in Hungary. Acta Vet Hung. 2008;56:441–450. [PubMed]
8. Reynolds C.A., Lappin M.R. ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ infections in 21 client-owned cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2007;43:249–257. [PubMed]
9. Willi B., Boretti F.S., Cattori V. Identification, molecular characterisation and experimental transmission of a new hemoplasma isolate from a cat with hemolytic anaemia in Switzerland. J Clin Microbiol. 2005;43:2581–2585. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
10. Willi B., Tasker S., Boretti F.S. Phylogenetic and risk factor analysis for ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ in United Kingdom, Australian and South African pet cats. J Clin Microbiol. 2006;44:4430–4435. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
11. Lobetti R.G., Tasker S. Diagnosis of feline haemoplasma infection using a real-time PCR. J South African Vet Assoc. 2004;75:94–99. [PubMed]
12. Kamrani A., Parreira V.R., Greenwood J., Prescott J.F. The prevalence of Bartonella, hemoplasma, and Rickettsia felis infections in domestic cats and in cat fleas in Ontario. Can J Vet Res. 2008;72:411–419. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
13. Gentilini F., Novacco M., Turba M.E., Willi B., Bacci M.L., Hofmann-Lehmann R. Use of combined conventional and real-time PCR to determine the epidemiology of feline haemoplasma infections in northern Italy. J Feline Med Surg. 2009;11:277–285. [PubMed]
14. Dean R.S., Helps C.R., Gruffydd Jones T.J., Tasker S. Use of real-time PCR to detect Mycoplasma haemofelis and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ in the saliva and salivary glands of haemoplasma-infected cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2008;10:413–417. [PubMed]
15. Museux K., Boretti F.S., Willi B. In vivo transmission studies of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ in the domestic cat. Vet Res. 2009;40:45. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
16. Woods J.E., Brewer M.M., Hawley J.R., Wisnewski N., Lappin M.R. Evaluation of experimental transmission of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum' and Mycoplasma haemofelis by Ctenocephalides felis to cats. Am J Vet Res. 2005;66:1008–1012. [PubMed]
17. Shaw S.E., Kenny M.J., Tasker S., Birtles R.J. Pathogen carriage by the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) in the United Kingdom. Vet Microbiol. 2004;102:183–188. [PubMed]
18. Lappin M.R., Griffin B., Brunt J. Prevalence of Bartonella species, haemoplasma species, Ehrlichia species, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Neorickettsia risticii DNA in the blood of cats and their fleas in the United States. J Feline Med Surg. 2006;8:85–90. [PubMed]
19. Hornok S., Meli M.L., Perreten A. Molecular investigation of hard ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) and fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) as potential vectors of rickettsial and mycoplasmal agents. Vet Microbiol. 2010;140:98–104. [PubMed]
20. Willi B., Boretti F.S., Meli M.L. Real-time PCR investigation of potential vectors, reservoirs and shedding patterns of feline hemotropic mycoplasmas. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007;73:3798–3802. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
21. Taroura S., Shimada Y., Sakata Y. Detection of DNA of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ and Spiroplasma sp. in unfed ticks collected from vegetation in Japan. J Vet Med Sci. 2005;67:1277–1279. [PubMed]
22. Hackett T.B., Jensen W.A., Lehman T.L. Prevalence of DNA of Mycoplasma haemofelis, ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and species of Bartonella, Neorickettsia, and Ehrlichia in cats used as blood donors in the United States. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006;229:700–705. [PubMed]
23. Gary A.T., Richmond H.L., Tasker S., Hackett T.B., Lappin M.R. Survival of Mycoplasma haemofelis and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ in blood of cats used for transfusions. J Feline Med Surg. 2006;8:321–326. [PubMed]
24. Foley J.E., Harrus S., Poland A., Chomel B., Pedersen N.C. Molecular, clinical, and pathologic comparison of two distinct strains of Haemobartonella felis in domestic cats. Am J Vet Res. 1998;59:1581–1588. [PubMed]
25. Tasker S., Binns S.H., Day M.J. Use of a PCR assay to assess prevalence and risk factors for Mycoplasma haemofelis and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ in cats in the United Kingdom. Vet Rec. 2003;152:193–198. [PubMed]
26. Bauer N., Balzer H.J., Thure S., Moritz A. Prevalence of feline haemotropic mycoplasmas in convenience samples of cats in Germany. J Feline Med Surg. 2008;10:252–258. [PubMed]
27. Westfall D.S., Jensen W.A., Reagan W.J., Radecki S.V., Lappin M.R. Inoculation of two genotypes of Haemobartonella felis (California and Ohio variants) to induce infection in cats and the response to treatment with azithromycin. Am J Vet Res. 2001;62:687–691. [PubMed]
28. Tasker S., Lappin M.R. Haemobartonella felis: recent developments in diagnosis and treatment. J Feline Med Surg. 2002;4:3–11. [PubMed]
29. Berent L.M., Messick J.B., Cooper S.K. Detection of Haemobartonella felis in cats with experimentally induced acute and chronic infections, using a polymerase chain reaction assay. Am J Vet Res. 1998;59:1215–1220. [PubMed]
30. Jensen W.A., Lappin M.R., Kamkar S., Reagen W.J. Use of a polymerase chain reaction assay to detect and differentiate two strains of Haemobartonella felis infection in naturally infected cats. Am J Vet Res. 2001;62:604–608. [PubMed]
31. Tasker S., Helps C.R., Day M.J., Gruffydd-Jones T.J., Harbour D.A. Use of real-time PCR to detect and quantify Mycoplasma haemofelis and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ DNA. J Clin Microbiol. 2003;41:439–441. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
32. Criado-Fornelio A., Martinez-Marcos A., Buling-Sarana A., Barba-Carretero J.C. Presence of Mycoplasma haemofelis, Mycoplasma haemominutum and piroplasmids in cats from southern Europe: a molecular study. Vet Microbiol. 2003;93:307–317. [PubMed]
33. Santos A.P., Messick J.B., Biondo A.W. Design, optimization, and application of a conventional PCR assay with an internal control for detection of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ 16S rDNA in domestic cats from Brazil. Vet Clin Pathol. 2009;38:443–452. [PubMed]
34. Peters I.R., Helps C.R., Willi B., Hofmann-Lehmann R., Tasker S. The prevalence of three species of feline haemoplasmas in samples submitted to a diagnostics service as determined by three novel real-time duplex PCR assays. Vet Microbiol. 2008;126:142–150. [PubMed]
35. Tasker S., Caney S.M.A., Day M.J. Effect of chronic FIV infection, and efficacy of marbofloxacin treatment, on Mycoplasma haemofelis infection. Vet Microbiol. 2006;117:169–179. [PubMed]
36. Tasker S., Peters I.R., Day M.J. Distribution of Mycoplasma haemofelis in blood and tissues following experimental infection. Microb Pathog. 2009;47:334–340. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
37. Maede Y. Studies on feline haemobartonellosis. V. Role of the spleen in cats infected with Haemobartonella felis. Jap J Vet Sci. 1978;40:141–146. [PubMed]
38. Alleman A.R., Palmer G.H., McGuire T.C., McElwain T.F., Perryman L.E., Barbet A.F. Anaplasma marginale major surface protein 3 is encoded by a polymorphic, multigene family. Infect Immun. 1997;65:156–163. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
39. Razin S., Yogev D., Naot Y. Molecular biology and pathogenicity of mycoplasmas. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1998;62:1094–1156. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
40. Dowers K.L., Olver C., Radecki S.V., Lappin M.R. Use of enrofloxacin for treatment of large-form Haemobartonella felis in experimentally infected cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2002;221:250–253. [PubMed]
41. Tasker S., Helps C.R., Day M.J., Harbour D.A., Gruffydd-Jones T.J., Lappin M. Use of a Taqman PCR to determine the response of Mycoplasma haemofelis infection to antibiotic treatment. J Microbiol Methods. 2004;56:63–71. [PubMed]
42. Dowers K.L., Tasker S., Radecki S.V., Lappin M.R. Use of pradofloxacin to treat experimentally induced Mycoplasma hemofelis infection in cats. Am J Vet Res. 2009;70:105–111. [PubMed]
43. German A.J., Cannon M.J., Dye C. Oesophageal strictures in cats associated with doxycycline therapy. J Feline Med Surg. 2005;7:33–41. [PubMed]
44. McGrotty Y.L., Knottenbelt C.M. Oesophageal stricture in a cat due to oral administration of tetracyclines. J Small Anim Pract. 2002;43:221–223. [PubMed]
45. Ishak A.M., Dowers K.L., Cavanaugh M.T. Marbofloxacin for the treatment of experimentally induced Mycoplasma haemofelis infection in cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2008;22:288–292. [PubMed]
46. Lappin M.R., Brewer M., Radecki S. Effects of imidocarb dipropionate in cats with chronic haemobartonellosis. Vet Therapeutics. 2002;2:144–149. [PubMed]
47. Woods J.E., Brewer M., Radecki S.V., Lappin M.R. Treatment of Mycoplasma haemofelis infected cats with imidocarb dipropionate. J Vet Intern Med. 2004;18:436.
48. Groebel K., Hoelzle K., Wittenbrink M.M., Ziegler U., Hoelzle L.E. Unraveling a paradigm: Mycoplasma suis invades porcine erythrocytes. Infect Immun. 2009;77:576–584. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
49. VanSteenhouse J.L., Millard J.R., Taboada J. Feline haemobartonellosis. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 1993;15:535–545.
50. Tasker S. PhD Thesis, University of Bristol; 2002. Feline haemoplasmas - detection, infection, dynamics and distribution.
51. Yuan C., Liang A., Yu F. Eperythrozoon infection identified in an unknown aetiology anaemic patient. Ann Microbiol. 2007;57:467–469.
52. Yuan C.L., Liang A.B., Yao C.B. Prevalence of Mycoplasma suis (Eperythrozoon suis) infection in swine and swine-farm workers in Shanghai, China. Am J Vet Res. 2009;70:890–894. [PubMed]
53. Santos A.P., Santos R.P., Biondo A.W. Hemoplasma infection in HIV-positive patient. Brazil. Emerg Infect Dis. 2008;14:1922–1994. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
PubReader format: click here to try

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links