Mycoplasma haemofelis is a blood borne bacterial infection in cats that causes anemia by causing the red blood cells to rupture. This disease is also referred to as Feline Infectious Anemia (FIA) due to the fact it is caused by an infectious bacteria. Mycoplasma is transmitted by bites from infected cats, ticks or fleas.
When a cat is infected from the bite the Mycoplasma bacteria attaches to the membrane of the red blood cell. This bacteria multiplies inside the red blood cell eventually causing the cell to break open and eventually cause anemia.
Signs of Mycoplasma infection include:
- Lack of appetite
- Pale or yellow gums or skin
- Eating of non food items
- Increased respiratory rate or effort.
- Dark yellow urine
A presumptive diagnosis of mycoplasma is based on a history of fleas, ticks, cat bite wounds as well as the above listed signs. A blood smear may be looked at under a microscope and bacteria on the surface of the red blood cells may be seen. Blood may also be sent to an outside laboratory for specific testing.
Treatment of mycoplasma is aimed at treating the bacterial infection as well as overall support of the cat. In most cases a prolonged course of either a tetracycline or fluoroquinolone antibiotic. In cats with more severe infections hospitalization with IV fluids, oxygen therapy or even a blood transfusion may be warranted.
Completely curing a cat of a mycoplasma infection is a long difficult process, however shorter courses of antibiotic treatment usually allow cats to become asymptomatic and return to normal life. Recurrence of clinical signs is uncommon unless the cat becomes immunosuppressed or ill from something else.
Prognosis of Mycoplasma infection depends on the severity of infection. Cats with mild signs generally recover well and do not relapse.
There is no vaccine against Mycoplasma at this time, the best prevention is flea and tick control and keeping cats indoors.