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Can J Vet Res. 2008 Oct;72(5):411-9.

The prevalence of Bartonella, hemoplasma, and Rickettsia felis infections in domestic cats and in cat fleas in Ontario.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, University of Guelph, Ontario.


The prevalence of persistent bacteremic Bartonella spp. and hemoplasma infections was determined in healthy pet cats in Ontario. Blood samples from healthy cats sent to a diagnostic laboratory for routine health assessment over the course of 1 y were tested for Bartonella spp. using both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and blood culture, and for the presence of hemoplasma by PCR. The overall prevalence of Bartonella spp. by PCR and by culture combined was 4.3% (28/646) [3.7% (24/646) Bartonella henselae, 0.6% (4/646) Bartonella clarridgeiae]. The novel B. henselae PCR developed for this study demonstrated nearly twice the sensitivity of bacterial isolation. The overall prevalence of hemoplasma was 4% (30/742) [3.3% (25/742) Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum, 0.7% (5/742) Mycoplasma haemofelis]. There was no significant difference between the prevalence of infection by season or by age (< or = 2 y, > 2 y). Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis was identified, for the first time in Canada, in 1 cat. The prevalence of Bartonella (58%) and hemoplasma (47% M. haemofelis, 13% M. haemominutum) in blood from a small sampling (n = 45) of stray cats was considerably higher than that found in healthy pet cats. The prevalence of Rickettsia felis in cat fleas was also assessed. A pool of fleas from each of 50 flea-infested cats was analyzed for the presence of R. felis by PCR. Rickettsia felis was confirmed, for the first time in Canada, in 9 of the 50 samples. Therefore, the prevalence of Bartonella and hemoplasma infection in healthy pet cats is relatively low. Further, the control of cat fleas is important because of the public health significance of Bartonella and R. felis infection.

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