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Bacterial Infection (Tularemia) in Cats

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Early treatment is the mainstay of successful resolution and cure of the symptoms. A high rate of deaths is common in patients that are not treated early. Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to control the infection and its related symptoms. Your cat may need antibiotic therapy for several days for complete resolution of the symptoms.


Living and Management


The overall prognosis is poor, especially in animals that are not treated early on in the course of the disease.


As previously mentioned, F. tularensis is a zoonotic infection -- meaning, it can be passed form one species to another. If your cat is infected with this bacteria you will need to take special precautions to protect yourself from infection. The bacteria most often penetrates the body through damaged skin and mucous membranes, or through inhalation. Humans are most likely to acquire the infection by tick bite, through cat scratches, and in some cases, simply through handling an infected animal. Tularemia can also be acquired by inhalation. In some cases, it is known to have occurred during the grooming process with dogs, and hunters are at a higher risk for this disease because of the potential of inhaling the bacteria during the skinning process. Ingesting the infected water, soil, or food that has become contaminated can also cause infection. In some other cases, it has been contracted from inhaling particles from an infected rabbit or other small rodent that was ground up in a lawnmower.


F. tularensis is an intracellular bacterium, meaning that it is able to live parasitically within the host cells. It primarily infects macrophages, a type of white blood cell, thus evading the immune system's response to destroy it. The course of the disease is dependent on the organism's ability to spread to multiple organ systems, including the lungs, liver, spleen, and lymphatic system.



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