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Wednesday, January 27 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Cytauxzoon Felis (Apicomplexa:Theileriidae) In Bobcats, Domestic Cats, and Tick Vectors In The Southern Region of Illinois

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AUTHORS: Elliott Zieman, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale; F. Agustin Jimenez, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale; Clayton K. Nielsen, Southern Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Cytauxzoon felis is an intraerythrocytic Apicomplexan parasite of felines in the southeastern US. Infection in domestic cats Felis catus can result in the highly fatal cytauxzoonosis. Bobcats Lynx rufus are the natural host and often show no apparent pathology associated with infection by C. felis. The lone star tick Amblyomma americanum and the American dog tick Dermacentor variabilis are competent vectors of C. felis. Previous work on C. felis has addressed the infection in one host species in a specific geographic region. In particular, distribution of the parasite in tick vectors was based on ticks removed from domestic animals and humans. A comprehensive study of the distribution of the parasite in both questing ticks and felines is necessary. Our study had two objectives: i) to determine the prevalence and parasitemia of C. felis in bobcats and domestic cats and determine the prevalence in questing tick vectors, and ii) to compare the genetic diversity of C. felis among different hosts. We screened tissues of 122 bobcats, 218 ticks (117 A. americanum, 101 D. variabilis), 12 domestic cats suspected to suffer cytauxzoonosis, and 28 asymptomatic domestic cats for the presence of C. felis using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Bobcats from Illinois showed a prevalence of 66%, whereas ticks had a prevalence of 15.6% with no difference between species. Eleven cases of cytauxzoonosis were confirmed in domestic cats and 9 of 28 (32.1%) of asymptomatic domestic cats were positive for C. felis. This is the first study to examine a local population of ticks, domestic cats and bobcats. Our data indicate a very high prevalence in ticks and bobcats. More research is necessary to evaluate the causes of these high prevalences, specifically exploring the possibility that domestic cats may be acting as reservoirs and that localized foci of infections appear to be present.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST