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Infectious Diseases

  • Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. There is no drug approved for treating heartworms in cats. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventative in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round.

  • Heartworm disease or dirofilariasis is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. Treatment usually consists of several parts including an injectable drug to kill adult heartworms, antibiotics, and treatment to kill microfilaria. There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare.

  • Hepatozoonosis is a disease caused by a protozoan (a small, microscopic organism) known as Hepatozoon. There are two species that cause hepatozoonosis, Hepatozoon canis and H. americanum, and there are differences in the course of disease and treatment depending on which species is the cause of the disease. Both species are spread by ticks; the most effective method to prevent hepatozoonosis is the regular use of an effective tick prevention.

  • Canine herpesvirus or canine herpes is a systemic, often fatal disease of puppies caused by canine herpes virus. It may remain latent in tissues after a dog is infected and may be passed on to other dogs, particularly to fetuses developing in the mother's uterus. Clinical signs in puppies include difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, anorexia, soft stools, crying, seizures, and sudden death. Symptoms in adult dogs include coughing and sneezing, miscarriage, lesions on the external genitalia, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers. Disease may be prevented by avoiding contact with infected dogs. Pregnant dogs should be isolated to prevent infection.

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. It is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats, and is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. The typical symptoms of FVR involve the nose, throat, and eyes, and include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, excessive blinking, squinting, and discharges from the eyes and nose that range from clear and watery to thick and purulent (containing yellow/green pus). Treatment consists of supportive care, hydration of the environment, and control of secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics and antibiotic eye medications. An effective vaccine exists and is recommended for all cats.

  • Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by histoplasma, a fungus found in moist soils and especially prevalent around the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and St. Lawrence Rivers, as well as the southern Great Lakes. Fungal spores are inhaled or ingested and cause infection in many sites including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, eyes, joints, and spleen. Clinical signs can include fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, coughing or trouble breathing, diarrhea, and straining to defecate. Diagnosis includes routine bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays antigen testing, and cytology or histopathology. Treatment requires long term anti-fungal medication such as itraconazole. Prognosis is guarded depending on the severity of the symptoms. This disease is transmissible to humans, especially if they are immunocompromised.

  • Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by histoplasma, a fungus found in moist soils and especially prevalent around the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and St. Lawrence Rivers, as well as the southern Great Lakes. Fungal spores are inhaled or ingested and cause infection in many sites including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, eyes, joints, and spleen. Clinical signs can include fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, coughing or trouble breathing, diarrhea, and straining while defecating. Diagnosis includes routine bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, antigen testing, and cytology or histopathology. Treatment requires long term anti-fungal medication such as itraconazole. Prognosis is guarded depending on how ill the patient is. This disease is transmissible to humans, especially if they are immunocompromised.

  • Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. In general, cats tend to harbor relatively few hookworms when compared to the large numbers found in dogs.

  • Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog that get their name from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. A large number of hookworms can cause inflammation in the dog's intestine as well as a life-threatening decrease in the number of red bloods cells, which is called anemia. This problem is most common in puppies, but can occur in adult dogs.

  • Vaccinations are important to prevent serious illness in cats. Even cats that spend 100% of their time indoors should be vaccinated. Some viruses can be carried into your home on inanimate objects such as shoes and clothing, therefore infecting your cat without her coming into contact with another animal. Rabies is deadly for both cats and humans and can be transmitted by a rabid bat that makes its way into your home. Your veterinarian is your most important resource in determining what vaccinations need to be given to your cat to keep her protected.