Hemobartonellosis is a disease seen primarily in cats, although dogs that have been splenectomized or suffer from immunosuppression can be at risk as well. This disease, which causes a profound anemia, occurs most often in young, male cats around 4 to 6 years old.
Insects are thought to be the mode of transmission between these organisms and cats. Clinical signs of hemobartonellosis include a sudden onset of depression, loss of appetite, and fever.
Because of the anemia the disease causes, the gums and mucous membranes of these cats are often quite pale. The skin and whites of the eyes may appear jaundiced as well. Diagnosis of this disease in cats can be made in a veterinary setting from the microscopic examination of fresh blood from suspected cats.
Many felines suffering from hemobartonellosis also concurrently have feline leukemia. As a result, a feline leukemia test should be preformed on all cats with hemobartonellosis. Hemobartonellosis is treated with blood transfusions if the anemia caused by it is severe, and with special antibiotics and medications.
The prognosis for recovery from the anemia and associated symptoms is good if treatment is instituted quickly. Unfortunately, a total cure is rarely possible with this disease, and owners should be on the lookout for stress-induced relapses, and seek prompt treatment for their felines if they should occur.