Some of those bugs can cause some serious health problems with your pets. Thankfully, an ounce (or less) of prevention on the back of the neck once a month saves a lot of headaches. And in some cases, heartaches.
|The culprit: Lone Star Tick|
And the reason I mention heartaches is because two of those little
Ticks transmit a disease called Bobcat Fever that - up until this year - was almost always fatal to domestic housecats. There is no way to trace the disease, and symptoms are usually very vague - at least in early stage. Lethargy, fever.
But internally, this disease is wreaking havoc, clogging arteries and causing a cascade of irreversible organ failure. In one vet's words, a terrible way to die.
|Areas with the most Bobcat Fever cases|
Dr. Leah Cohn, professor of veterinary internal medicine at the University of Missouri, along with Adam Birkenheuer of North Carolina State University, have come up with a treatment to combat Bobcat Fever. We won't go into the nitty gritty, except to say that the disease is in the same family as malaria and is favorably responding to a cocktail of malaria-type drugs and antibiotics.
In their study, 60% of the infected cats survived after receiving Cohn's new treatment. it's not perfect, but 6 out of 10 cats will now have a chance thanks to Drs. Cohn & Birhenheuer!
|Bobcat photo: ucumari. Published via Creative Commons.|
One vet who's been dealing with the devastation of Bobcat Fever is Ellen Ratcliff, who practices in the Springfield, MO area. She said that since she graduated vet school 11 years ago, pretty much every cat that contracted the disease died from it. Last summer, with the new medications onboard, almost all of the 25 infected cats she treated were released.
Of course, one almost foolproof way to save yourself a lot of vet expense and heart-stopping worry is to keep your cats indoors. As bobcat fever is transmitted exclusively through ticks or transfusion of infected blood, an indoors-only cat is most probably safe.
But as our vet is fond of saying, it only takes one bite, from one bug.
Just ask Zac March, director of eLearning at MU. His cat rarely went outside, yet was bittten by a tick and infected last year. She was one of the few who did not respond to the treatment - and sadly, they lost her.
Another thing, if you're like me and you have a kitty with clever paws (yes, I'm looking at you, Maxwell!) then you may have the occasional escape artist on your hands. So we happily pay $15/month and apply flea, tick & heartworm prevention.
Please read labels carefully when applying medication - drugs intended for dogs can kill cats!
Source: The Columbia Missourian.