Granulocytic anaplasmosis in cats from central Europe and molecular characterization of feline Anaplasma phagocytophilum strains by ankA gene, groEL gene and multilocus sequence typing

Anna Sophia Kruppenbacher, Elisabeth Müller, Matthew L. Aardema, Ingo Schäfer, Friederike D. von Loewenich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Anaplasma phagocytophilum is a Gram-negative obligate intracellular bacterium that replicates in neutrophil granulocytes. It is transmitted by ticks of the Ixodes ricinus complex and causes febrile illness called granulocytic anaplasmosis primarily in humans, horses, dogs, sheep, cattle and goats. In comparison, clinically apparent disease has been described rarely in cats especially compared to dogs and horses. It is currently unknown whether cats are less susceptible to A. phagocytophilum or whether granulocytic anaplasmosis might be underdiagnosed in cats. Methods: To address this question, we examined clinical signs and laboratory findings in seven A. phagocytophilum infected cats from Germany and Switzerland. We then genetically characterized feline A. phagocytophilum strains and compared them to those from other hosts showing clinically apparent disease. For this purpose, ankA-based, groEL-based and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were applied. Furthermore, the concordance between these typing methods was assessed. Results: Fever, lethargy and anorexia were the most common clinical signs in cats suffering from granulocytic anaplasmosis. The most frequent laboratory finding was thrombocytopenia. All three typing methods consistently indicated that the A. phagocytophilum strains found infecting cats are the same as those that cause disease in humans, dogs and horses. In general, the three typing methods applied exhibited high concordance. Conclusions: The genetic characterization of the feline A. phagocytophilum strains indicates that strain divergence is not the explanation for the fact that granulocytic anaplasmosis is much less frequently diagnosed in cats than in dogs and horses. Otherwise, it may be possible that cats are less susceptible to the same strains than dogs and horse are. However, due to the unspecific clinical signs, it should be considered that granulocytic anaplasmosis may be under-diagnosed in cats. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number348
JournalParasites and Vectors
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Cat
  • Europe
  • Germany
  • Granulocytic anaplasmosis
  • Multilocus sequence typing
  • Switzerland
  • ankA
  • groEL

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