Lyme disease in cats symptoms, treatment, and prevention

Lyme disease in cats symptoms

Lyme disease is a tick born disease due to infection with Brorrelia Burgdorferi. These organisms are found in the wild animals, but also affect human and some species of domestic animals. Lyme disease in cats is considered uncommon disease and remains poorly understood. Mainly Lyme disease in cats is a symptomatic.

How does Lyme disease transmitted?

The most common transmission method of Lyme disease in cats is ticks infestation by hard _shell deer ticks as Ixodes species. Ixodes tick have a life cycle about 2 years and hatches during the spring, a female tick lays about 2000 eggs. Larvae infected with Borrelia burgdorferi when it feeds on mice (which are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi), but commonly asymptomatic.

Larvae molt into nymphs which infect their host during feeding on it. Then nymphs molt into adult tick which carry Borrelia burgdorferi. During ticks biting, and attachment of cat’s body, the spirochetes migrate from the mid gut to the salivary gland of the ticks and infect the cat.

Causes of Lyme disease in cats

Lyme disease occurs by infection with Brorrelia burgdorferi (spirochaeta family), which is transmitted with Ixodes species. Mice are the preferred host, also birds are carriers as they carry ticks and spirochetes to the distant areas. Lyme disease is more common in younger cats than older ones. Cats may act as a transport hosts for infected ticks.

Lyme disease in cats symptoms

Generally, symptoms of Lyme disease in cats are absent, as infected cats with Lyme disease may show resistance to the clinical signs. Clinical signs last for 2-3 days and disappear and may return. Some symptoms of Lyme disease are :

  1. Fever.
  2. Lymphadenopathy.
  3. Lamness.
  4. Inflammation and pain in the joints.

In case of chronic cases symptoms include:

  1. Intermittent lamness.
  2. Cardiac disorders as heart block.
  3. Neurological symptoms.
  4. Vomiting.
  5. Weight loss.
  6. Lethargy.
  7. Fetal complications of renal failure.

Diagnosis of Lyme disease in cats

  1. Serological tests such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) , and IFA (indirect fluorescent antibody techniques) are used for accurate diagnosis.
  2. Culture and Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
  3. In case of false positive results due to vaccination or infection with a similar organism, western Blot test and ELISA are used for differential diagnosis.

Are cats with Lyme disease makes risk to human?

Human can be infected with Lyme disease, but not through infected cats, Lyme disease is not transmitted from animals to human.

Treatment of Lyme disease in cats

Lyme disease can be recovered within 2-3 days after antibiotic treatment as (Amoxicillin, Tetracycline, and Cephalosporine). Lyme disease may recur after some weeks. So it is recommended to continue using the antibiotic therapy for at least 2 weeks after the full recovery of the clinical signs.

NSAID are used in combination with Antibiotic therapy in case of joint disorders to relief pain (mainly NSAID are not recommended as it mask other underlying diseases or mask the diagnostic value of Antibiotic therapy). Removing the ticks is very important, at first ensure that the founded object is a tick, it can be removed using tweezers and tick hooks.

Treat or no treat

  • In case of sero positive case with no clinical signs of Lyme disease (asymptomatic), treatment is not recommended, as antibiotics therapy has side effects such as Git disturbances, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, increase the level of liver enzymes, and Antibiotics resistance.
  • In case of sero positive case with presence of Lyme disease clinical signs treatment with antibiotics therapy is recommended. Clinical signs disappear within 2-3 days.

Prevention of Lyme disease in cats.

The most effective method for prevention of Lyme disease is to prevent animals from tick exposure, there are many effective products are used to control ticks, it has great benefits as:

  1. It reduces the risk of Lyme disease transmission.
  2. Prevent introduction of ticks to the home.
  3. Effective or pets traveling, with a history of ticks exposure or going to endemic areas with Lyme disease.

Dead bacterial vaccines are used in high endemic areas, it reduces the incidence of the disease and  help the cat to improves its Immune system and to fight Lyme disease. Vaccine is given annually.

Prevention plane should be done as the following :

  1. Using Parasticides monthly for tick control.
  2. Ticks removal daily as cat’s owners should be trained for ticks removal.
  3. Vaccination of the cats especially which are in endemic areas.

Prognosis of lyme disease in cats.

The veterinarian takes the decision to treat or no according to the presence of the clinical signs, a case history, and evidence of protein urea. In acute cases of Lyme disease prognosis is very well as the clinical signs disappear within 2-3 days from the onset of antibiotics therapy. But in chronic cases prognosis is  a grave.


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