A study was performed to determine prevalence of Cytauxzoon felis (C felis) infections in bobcats (Lynx rufus) from North Carolina, where C felis is recognized in domestic cats, and in Pennsylvania, where it is not. Samples from North Carolina (n = 32) were obtained postmortem via cardiac puncture from legally trapped bobcats. Samples from Pennsylvania (n = 70) were collected postmortem onto Nobuto blood collecting strips by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Each sample was tested using a C felis-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay as well as a PCR assay targeting host DNA to rule out the presence of PCR inhibitors. Three samples were excluded due to the presence of PCR inhibitors. Thirty-three percent (10 of 30) of the samples from North Carolina and 7% (5 of 69) of the samples from Pennsylvania tested positive for C felis. The proportion of C felis-positive bobcats from North Carolina was significantly different from that of Pennsylvania (P < 0.005). Despite the lower prevalence of C felis infections in Pennsylvania bobcats, this finding is unique and indicates the potential for C felis infections in domestic cats in the northeastern United States if the appropriate tick vectors are present. Veterinary practitioners in Pennsylvania should be alert for cytauxzoonosis in domestic cats. Further studies about the epidemiology and transmission of C felis infections in both domestic cats and bobcats are needed.

COMMENTARY: C felis was first identified in the United States 30 years ago, and since then there has been a small number of reported cases. However, researchers at the University of Georgia have noted that the frequency and distribution of cytauxzoonosis are growing and that domestic cats occasionally remain persistently infected without morbidity, providing an additional reservoir host for the parasite. Clinicians in the Southeast and as far north as Pennsylvania should consider C felis in febrile cats, and owners should be educated about tick control, especially in the spring and summer, when tick populations peak.-Carly Jordan, PhD candidate in parasitology

Cytauxzoon felis infections are present in bobcats (Lynx rufus) in a region where cytauxzoonosis is not recognized in domestic cats. Birkenheuer AJ. VET PARASITOL 153:126-130, 2008.