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Now Persil has Erlichia!

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
I cannot believe how unlucky my poor little girl is. AS you all know, I have been paranoid about her health since her hernia op in January, and kept telling myself I was imagining things, but I was sure she was not quite herself. She is not growing the way she should and her coat is not in good condition, but I kept saying this was all a result of being sick before. Today she went in for her 90 day check and final Xray after the op, and all is fine in her chest. But after reading here about heartworm (something I had never considered before) I asked for her to be tested. Heartworm was OK but the test proved positive for erlichia, a parasite I had never heard of. I have looked it up and it seems much more common in dogs than cats, but if left can cause anemia and death by attacking the bone marrow. She will start treatment on Friday and the vet thinks she will be OK. But does anyone here have any experience? The vet was a bit inconclusive about the danger to the other cats, but I will have them tested anyway. Please, if anyone knows anything, tell me. Is it really fully treatable? Can it be passed on? Is there anything else I can do for her to prevent anemia? I already supplement her diet with egg yolk and goat milk as kitten food is not available here.
post #2 of 52
Oh Jenny!!!! Poor little Persil, as if she hasn't been through enough!!

If no one comes up with anything i can e-mail my friend Emma to see if her surgery has any knowledge on it?!.

Are you unable to but kitten kibbles even?!
post #3 of 52
This must have been shocking for you, Jenny. It sure is a good thing you had Persil tested! Now that she will be treated, I'm sure she will recover quickly. Now she will be healthier than ever! Persil, baby, please get well soon!
post #4 of 52
Sorry to hear about your baby, I'll be adding her to my prayers. I've never heard of that either, it's hard to believe just how many things can go wrong.
post #5 of 52
poor persil!

i hope with all my heart she gets through this. you've both been thorough so much.

pm me if you need to talk
post #6 of 52
Thread Starter 
I am so confused and angry, and I don't know what to think. It was my private vet who did the test, as the Vet Faculty (where Persil had her op) had no tests or microchips so I took her to the other vet, mainly to get hte microchip done as she needs that for the rabies certificate to be valid. While there we did the FIV/Felv (neg rersult) and hte heartworm, as I mentioned in the pother post. Anyway, I mentioned the positive result at the faculty, and the nice vet there who saved her life said he had never heard of Erlichdia here, it was a tropical disease in cats, and he questioned a) the result, b) the honesty of the vet! He also saw her this morning for the Xray and said that he would have noticed symptoms. I saw the test being done, but the vet then took the tray away for twenty minutes, so I can't swear that it was not tampered with. Anything is possible in this country, and there is no doubt that the vet was pretty pissed off that I was taking her to the Faculty. But they saved her at Christmas when he was away, and he had actually been treating her for hte wrong thing anyway. I asked the Faculty vet if they could retest her, but they dont have the test packs. So I am left to decide to treat her ( which is apparently 2 painful subcutaneous injections per day for 14 days), or not to and risk there being something after all. Erlichdia can kill if left untreated.
post #7 of 52
oh Jenny its so unfair!

it just comes down to whether you trust the vets test results. i dont think i would get her treated unless i could get a second opinion.

this must be so hard on you!
post #8 of 52
Jenny i have to agree with Nicky as well on getting another vet to see Persil on this.

They certainly have you where you don't know what to do?!
post #9 of 52
I would get a second opinon. Never take a chance on your babies health.
post #10 of 52
Here is a quick definition of erlichiosis:


A tiny organism called Erlichia, which lives in the saliva of Brown Dog Ticks, causes this disease in dogs and cats. The organism spreads through the blood of a tick’s host, and it can begin to inflame and damage the animal’s internal organs. If the disease becomes very advanced, it can damage an animal’s bone marrow, causing anemia and suppressing the immune system.

The symptoms of Erlichiosis vary, as the effects of the disease can range from very severe to very mild. Some animals will simply be lethargic; others may develop fevers, infections, nosebleeds, enlarged lymph nodes, difficulty walking, and more. Veterinarians can use various blood, urine, and other tests to detect the present of Erlichia in an animal’s body. Pets can generally recover well from Erlichiosis. They may be treated with antibiotics, fluids, steroids, and even blood transfusions.

There is no vaccine for Erlichiosis, but you can protect your pets by guarding them against ticks. If your cat or dog goes outside in an area that has ticks, protect him with some kind of a tick repellent. There are a number of options; you can ask your veterinarian which is best for your pet."

I would check about the incidence of the carrier in your area, and ask the vet to check into some of these other options. It may behove them to order in the test and re-do it especially if there is the possibility that the host and the illness are in their area.

Good luck
post #11 of 52
Oh my goodness! Poor Persil
post #12 of 52
This is awful!!

Is it really possible where you are that the vet is lying? Why would they do that - to get your money?

Are you able to take your cat anywhere else? Thats what I would do - even if its miles away. You'd only have to go once presumably. If it did need treating then you could go somewhere nearer?
post #13 of 52

Here is a pretty technical link to studies that include erlichiosis - it is the human variant that also infects cats and dogs through tick bites - it does mention that in Slovenia there is a 15.4% incident of positive results among their test subjects.

For what it is worth, I do know that one of the local conservation areas (Panola Mountain State Park) about 15 miles from me and where I like to visit, is posted as having ticks testing positive for erlichiosis and the risk for infection increases starting in April and continuing until December. I don't think it is just a tropical disease. There is a variant of it that appears only in Japan but the human granulocytic erlichiosis (HGE) does exist in temperate climates. Interestingly, the treatments appear to be with antibiotics primarily. I would suggest that your clinic investigate a little bit further and consider ordering in the tests. They are done with a blood smear.

Good luck. The prognosis with treatment looks good, actually, if it turns out that Persil is infected. Now, it is a tick-bourne illness so somehow she would have to have been exposed to an infected tick, or bitten or scratched by another infected animal so that it passed from the other animal's blood stream into hers.

btw 'Anaplasma phagozytophilum' is the official name of the organism that causes erlichiosis.


post #14 of 52
Jenny I'm so sorry, how frightening for you - poor little Persil, she looks such a sweetheart. The second opinion idea sounds like a really good one, this is so much for both of you to have to go through unless it's really necessary. Thinking of you both. :Hugs:
post #15 of 52
Hugs and headbutts for Persil and for you, too.
post #16 of 52
Thread Starter 
It basically comes down to me having two opinions already - the private vet I have worked with for 3 years, and the University Vet Faculty. There is no one else in Sarajevo. I always trusted my private vet until this Christmas, when he misdiagnosed Persil and I had to take her over Christmas as an emergency case to the Vet Faculty, where they operated on a diaphragmatic hernia and saved her life. Since then the Vet faculty have treated her, as I wanted the same surgeon to spay her etc. and do her aftercare. BUT the vet Faculty do not do these tests, and had no microchips and I am in the process of getting my girls ready to travel to the EU. SO I had to take her back to the private vet, who do run the tests and can microchip. I hate to say it, but people here do lie, not so much for money, though it happens, but more out of jealousy. That was the immediate reaction at the Faculty - that he was jealous. He was certainly angry, and told me that the rabies and vaccination shots the vet faculty had done were invalid, not 'official' , though the vet faculty told me thay had done hundreds for people travelling to the EU, the US, etc. He wants to redo everything! I know it all sounds incredible, but that is the way things are here. Meanwhile I do not know what to do for Persil. Dr Haris at the Faculty is discussing it with his colleagues to see if htere is any way they can run a blood count and test her, but he says has never seen a case here, and I have never seen a tick. If she is sick I must treat her, but I do not want to put her through a long painful treatment for nothing - she has had so much already. While they were taking her blood this morning she was so good, meowed but didn't struggle, and kept looking at me with a 'why, mummy?' expression on her face and then made a dive for inside my coat as soon as she could.
post #17 of 52
Awww bless her little heart

Well going off what you've said Jenny, i'd go for this Dr Haris at the vet faculty and let him do the blood work.

I don't like the sound of the private vet from how you've described him, and i wouldn't like to leave one of my cats with him if he's ticked off because you went elsewhere!.
post #18 of 52
Oh boy...I had never heard of this. Thank you to Kathryn for all the information.

I think the first thought that came to mind, was that any vet who would, for whatever reason, want you to subject your cats to un-needed second round of rabies and other vaccinations because of where you had them done, isn't putting your cat's health first.

I am not sure I'd put her through it, perhaps preferring to follow her with blood work to check for any developing anemia, until you can find a vet to retest once you've moved.

Fwiw, can you get Pet-Tinic? It's an excellent liquid supplement with vitamin b's, I also give Patrick a vitamin b supplement w/iron - Twin Labs Super B Complex, Regular Formula (a human supplement). Both are discussed on feline crf.org site, under anemia. The Pet-Tinic can be used as an overall supplement, I would of course, not add either, without your vet's approval, and doseage discussion.

Sweet Persil...I really, really hope this is a case of human falliability <---sorry, I am just rotten at spelling(aka sucumbing to jealous) versus her really having this parasite
post #19 of 52
I wish I had some wonderful advice, but I don't. My heart just breaks for poor little Persil! She has been through so much. I am praying for her.
post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thank you, everyone, especially Kathryn for the extra info. It seems there are always unheard-of diseases that can leap up and bite.
Anyway I will see what Dr Haris at the Faculty says tomorrow morning, after he has discussed it there with his colleagues. I certainly do not intend to make Persil go through extra shots for nothing! It seems, looking online, that it is possible to treat this with tetracycline, administered as a standard injection. If that is all it takes, and not the other one mentioned to me whose name I forget, then it could be that it is worth doing as a precaution. I will see tomorrow.
post #21 of 52
I'm so sorry you and little Persil have to go through all of this
post #22 of 52
Oh, Jenny! I Googled in German to see if I could come up with some incidence of erlichiosis in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, since they're close enough to Bosnia to perhaps give you an idea. All I came up with is that some dogs or cats being brought to Germany from Spain, Italy, and Herzegovina for adoption here are tested for it. It doesn't really seem to be a "tropical" disease, though, because it's prevalent in the Southern U.S., and there are cases in Pennsylvania, which is far from tropical.
post #23 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I asked the vet again about this and he said that in fact what he had meant was that he has never seen a case here, but that there have been some cases in cats brought here from the Mediterranean and Africa. The ticks responsible don't live here as they can't survive the winters. So I wonder if she was bitten by a cat who somehow had picked it up - if she has it at all. It could have happened before I found her. I do feel that she is not quite right - she is still very small for her age, and rather thin, though she eats a lot. But I thought I was being paranoid and hypochondriac.
post #24 of 52

I don't know what is involved in the test but I am wondering about having a re-test and then getting a copy of the results written down. Her small size could certainly be attributed to her earlier health problems, and it may be that she will always be a small cat because so much of her energy was diverted from her growth when she was younger. You mentioned that you are going to the EU soon. Is there a chance that you could have her tested there? From what I read tetracycline was the first course for treatment as well, and then there was another drug listed (I don't recall the name) that was also used. Perhaps one of the vet techs on the list can ask at their clinics if they are familiar with diagnosis and treatment for the condition. Under the circumstances if there is any way to get a second opinion or a second test to confirm the results, it seems it would be a useful exercise. I am curious - why did he end up testing for Erlichiosis to begin with? Is it a standard protocol for the heartworm test?

post #25 of 52
hehehe, doing more reading.

Here is a link - it won't copy - of really good technical information about the tests used to identify ehrlichosis in cats and dogs (same variant, same symptoms, same treatment) and both the treatment and dosage of the various antibiotics - doxycycline, tetracycline and two other ones - it seems a 24 to 28 day series is most effective with very quick results apparent between 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment. Even if she is just supposed to have the condition you could still start her on the antibiotic.

Maybe you can print out this article and take it in to the faculty vets so they can peruse it. The information is very very useful. I am not familiar enough with Persil to see if she has the symptoms listed, but some of them are pretty definite and you haven't mentioned them, so I don't know if cats can be asymptomatic or not. I may be misreading this information but in the addenda it appears that the serological test on cats is not necessarily reliable and generally they use both a positive serological test plus physical evidence of the condition to indicate a likeliehood of infection.

post #26 of 52
Oh, sweet little Persil! I just hope she doesn't have to endure this treatment, Jenny, and know it just breaks your heart to think of her having to deal with such painful injections.All you want it is for your baby to be well! Please do let us know as soon as you know anything. Please feel better, Persil!
post #27 of 52
Thread Starter 
KAthryn, thank you. I also have been doing up some reading! To answer your questions - yes, I asked about the heartworm test and it is a SNAP test that also covers other conditions. I am going to live in France soon, but I really don't know when yet - it might even be up to a year before I go so I do want to get this sorted first. Also, the documents for EU entry include a vet exam that says the animal is as healthy as can be expected, so I don't want any lingering conditions on her 'pet passport'. Quite apart from the fact that I want her to be healthy!

I think we have it sorted. This morning Dr Haris told me he has a friend going to Vienna next week to the vet faculty at the university there, where they have an EU accredited lab. He has spoken to someone there who is willing to do the rabies antibody tests (essential for the EU passport) and to use drops of the same blood samples to do SNAP tests on all three girls. Haris will take the blood samples the day before his friend travels. This is perfect - an objective test and I will get the results of both the SNAPs and the rabies tests within two days. It also saves me the hassle of having to send blood samples by DHL to SLovenia for the rabies results, which is what I thought I was going to have to do, as there is no accredited lab here.

So I think we can safely wait a week or so before starting any treatment - I don't even like giving antibiotics without a good reason, we all know about built up immunity. I will keep you all posted, and thanks to all who sent good wishes. And no, I will not be going back to the private vet!
post #28 of 52
Jenny i really like the sound of this Dr Haris!
post #29 of 52
Thread Starter 
Yes, I think he is a really good guy, and I discovered this morning too that he is involved in a scheme to trap and neuter stray dogs in Sarajevo. That is why his friend is going to Vienna. They do all the necessary procedures and paperwork and then send the dogs to Vienna as pre-arranged pets. Apparently there is a big demand for 'Bosnian orphan' dogs, and all owners are checked out thoroughly. Dogs that cannot be socialized are PTS, which is sad but better than being on the streets.

The only thing is that working at the Govt Faculty there is a terrible shortage of equipment etc, which is why they don't have SNAP tests or a lab, and run out of microchips. And the premises, though clean, are very run down. They can't charge the same kind of fees as the private vet. But I think they are really doing all they can.
post #30 of 52
Oh Jenny, it really is never ending for poor Persil. She is in my thoughts.
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