Piroplasms in free-ranging bobcats and cougars in the United States
Shock, Barbara Christine
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Cytauxzoon felis, a tick-borne protozoal parasite (family Theileridae), is the causative agent of cytauxzoonosis in domestic cats in the United States. The parasite was first identified in domestic cats from Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas in the 1970’s and is now common in the southeastern and Midwestern US. The bobcat (Lynx rufus) has been identified as the natural reservoir of C. felis. The overall goal of this project was to better understand the natural history of C. felis in bobcats and cougars (Puma concolor). Based on PCR testing of >700 wild felids, infected bobcats were identified in numerous eastern and central states, with higher prevalence rates being found in states where Amblyomma americanum is present in addition to Dermancentor variabilis. Sequence analysis of internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-1 and ITS-2 regions revealed extensive genetic variation. Interestingly, one bobcat was infected with a Babesia sp. which is the first report in a bobcat.