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Am J Vet Res. 2001 May;62(5):687-91.

Inoculation of two genotypes of Hemobartonella felis (California and Ohio variants) to induce infection in cats and the response to treatment with azithromycin.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.



To describe clinical and laboratory findings associated with cats experimentally infected by inoculation with the 2 recognized genotypes of Hemobartonella felis (small variant, Hfsm; large variant, Hflg) and to determine the response of cats to treatment with azithromycin.


18 young adult domestic shorthair cats of both sexes.


Cats were inoculated with H felis and monitored weekly, using CBC counts and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) designed to detect both genetic variants of H felis. Beginning 26 days after inoculation, 11 cats were administered azithromycin (15 mg/kg of body weight, PO, q 12 h, for 7 days).


Inoculation resulted in coinfection with Hflg and Hfsm, and both variants were detected by PCR. Clinical abnormalities and anemia were most severe in Hflg- and dual-infected cats. Results of PCR and CBC were positive for H felis in 112/112 (100%) and 42/112 (37.5%), respectively, samples collected after inoculation. Administration of azithromycin had little effect on clinical variables, including anemia. All cats, regardless of treatment with azithromycin, had positive results for the PCR at the end of the study period.


In these cats, Hflg was more pathogenic than Hfsm, and coinfection with both variants was detected. Results of the PCR were superior to results of CBC for detecting infection with H felis. Azithromycin administered at the dose and duration reported here was not efficacious for the treatment of cats with hemobartonellosis.

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