What is Mycoplasma Infection?
Mycoplasma infection is caused by a type of bacteria that acts as a parasite in the blood, causing anemia and other signs of infection. Antibiotic treatment may be needed to overcome the disease, especially in cats with poor immune performance.
Mycoplasma infection is a medical condition that affects cats, dogs, farm animals, and people. The bacteria are present in most environments. Most healthy animals will experience little to no symptoms, but the very young or old or those with immune disorders may have severe anemia and other signs of infection. Mycoplasma commonly causes respiratory symptoms like bronchitis and pneumonia, but can cause infection in other parts of the body as well.
Symptoms of Mycoplasma Infection in Cats
The symptoms of mycoplasma infection can vary based on several factors. The most common symptom is anemia. Clinical signs can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the immune status of the cat. Symptoms are considerably more severe in animals who have immune disorders and weakened immune systems. The location of the infection also affects the type of symptoms the cat will have. Infections can be located in the respiratory system, urinary tract, joints, or reproductive system.
Common symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Yellowing of skin (Icterus or Jaundice)
- Pale skin and mucous membranes
- Nasal or ocular (eye) discharge
Symptoms related to the infection location include:
- Trouble breathing
- Joint inflammation
- Difficulty moving
- Urinary tract infection
- Reproductive problems (including miscarriage and poor fetal development)
Causes of Mycoplasma Infection in Cats
Mycoplasma infection is caused by exposure to the bacteria. This can occur in almost any setting, as this type of bacteria is very common. It can spread easily between animals, making it common in shelters and kennels as well as multi-pet homes. The infection is not limited to cats, and can be caught from or given to other companion animals. Humans are also at risk of infection. Immunodeficiency and conditions that weaken or suppress the immune system increase the risk of contracting the disease.
Diagnosis of Mycoplasma Infection in Cats
A veterinarian can diagnose Mycoplasma infection using various medical testing procedures to visually confirm the organisms in blood, urine, or other fluids. Before proceeding to this step, a physical examination and medical history of the cat are required. Be prepared to discuss the symptoms and timeframes associated with your pet’s illness. If clinical signs point to a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will collect fluids for testing purposes. The fluid collected will depend on the type and location of the symptoms your cat is exhibiting. For example, a urinalysis or urine testing are effective in situations where the animal is experience related symptoms. Joint fluid, mucus, and blood samples can also be analyzed. Dye staining has been shown to be an effective method for locating the bacteria that cause the infection in cats.
Treatment of Mycoplasma Infection in Cats
No single treatment or protocol is considered consistently effective in treating Mycoplasma infection. Treatments will vary depending on the severity of symptoms and location of the infection within the body. Antibiotics are the most common form of treatment, but the type of antimicrobial the bacteria is susceptible to is not the same in all cases. To completely overcome the disease, treatments may continue for an extended period of time. Although treatment plans may differ, most cats will not require hospitalization unless their symptoms are very severe or in animals with poor immune function. Recommended treatments may include:
Antibiotics: Most cats will require a minimum seven to ten-day course of antibiotics to treat the primary infection. Because Mycoplasma infections can be hard to eradicate, more than one course of antibiotics may be necessary for a full recovery.
Analgesics: If pain, inflammation, or fever is severe, this category of painkiller may be prescribed. Be sure to carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions if you will be dosing your pet with painkillers at home. Too much of this type of medication can be very dangerous to your cat.
Recovery of Mycoplasma Infection in Cats
Most cats with normal immune function are expected to make a full recovery from the disease, although it may take several weeks to completely rid your pet of the infection. Once antibiotic treatment has begun, symptom improvement can be expected within a few days. Anemia symptoms may take longer to recover from. Carefully monitor your pet’s food and water intake while they are recovering to make sure your cat is receiving the proper nutrition to recover.
Reinfection is a risk with Mycoplasma, so pet areas should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Continued disinfection should be maintained until your pet has completed their antibiotic treatments. If there are multiple animals in the home, isolation may be necessary to prevent the spread of infection. Take your pet back to the veterinarian if symptoms get worse, don’t improve after a week’s time, or come back.
Mycoplasma Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My two 13 months cats have tested positive for Mycoplasmosis at 4 months and treated (ineffectively) with ampicillin back then because I was told Doxycycline could stunt their growth.
At 10 months they received a month long treatment of Doxycycline. Symptoms disappeared for 3 months but now they start having problems again.
I live in Italy, in an area where medical care for cats is very basic. I consulted a good veterinarian from a large clinic in a bigger city. This doctor tells me I might have to accept that the infection will never be defeated. I have two older cats and I worry about them been exposed, they lick each other. I am about to start another course of Doxycycline. Can I go on giving them antibiotics every few months? Are there any new treatments available? Is research been done? Is there any hope? I will travel the US in March and I could try to buy antibiotics that are not available in Europe, if that is the case.
I don't seem to manage the Symptoms section! but they have runny nose, formation of black matter in nostrils and eyes, urinary inflammation with urinating on soft surfaces, sneezing , some loss of appetite.
Thank you very much.
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how do I find out if my cat has a fever? She is 16 yrs old, has had no illness since her first year or 2, which was just a stomach thing that was cured.
She has symptoms now and I will take her to a vet soon. But in the meantime, I'm researching those symptoms and want to know if she has a fever. Thank you very much.
The best way to determine if Antionette has a fever is to use a rectal thermometer to measure her internal temperature. Normal physiological range is 100.5-102.5°F, if her temperature is above 102.5°F then she would have a fever and need urgent Veterinary care. Rectal thermometers are available at any local pharmacy or many supermarkets. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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