Feline infectious anaemia

Symptoms of feline infectious anaemia, treatment and prevention

source: Feline Advisory Bureau Journal vol 38:3, July 2000
starts p93, 2 pages long

Feline infectious anaemia (FIA) is caused by Haemobartonella felis (H felis), a bacterial parasite which damages red blood cells. Young male cats, and those sick from other diseases such as FIV are especially vulnerable, and the disease is thought to be transmitted through fighting and fleas, as well as from queens to their kittens. Urine and saliva are not thought to be infectious, but cats can catch FIA from infected blood, either from blood transfusions, or from biting infected cats. Humans cannot catch FIA.

Affected cats tend to show loss of appetite, pale gums, tiredness and depression. Diagnosis is not easy because levels of bacteria vary in waves. Some infected cats are carriers and show no symptoms, and anaemic cats are usually able to produce new red cells. FIA can be treated with antibiotics such as Doxycycline, which may be used together with corticosteroids to prevent red cell destruction. Blood transfusions may be needed if anaemia is severe. Rehydration therapy and help with feeding may also be needed. Cats may still carry FIA for life, despite treatment with antibiotics, and only
appear ill at times of stress. Preventive measures include controlling fleas, and reducing aggression between cats, as well as ensuring that blood used in transfusions is FIA-free.