Prevalence of ectoparasites in a population of feral cats from north central Florida during the summer

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2002
Authors:L. H. Akucewich, Philman, K., Clark, A., Gillespie, J., Kunkle, G., Nicklin, C. F., Greiner, E. C.
Journal:Veterinary Parasitology
Pagination:129 - 139
Date Published:2002
Keywords:Ear mites, ectoparasite, Feral cats, fleas, Florida, ticks

Ectoparasites are a common and important cause of skin disorders in cats. Ectoparasites are capable of disease transmission and can cause life-threatening anemia in young or debilitated animals. The objective of this study was to determine the potential feline ectoparasites in domestic cats by using a cohort of feral cats from north central Florida that have not received veterinary care and have no known exposure to insecticide application. A total of 200 feral cats were randomly selected for this study. Four monthly sessions were scheduled for feral cat ectoparasite examination and sample collection. Five minutes flea combing revealed that 185/200 (92.5%) of the cats were infested with fleas. The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis was the most common flea infesting 92.5% feral cats (mean=13.6; standard deviation±16.4 fleas per cat). Pulex simulans was identified on 9/200 (4.5%) (mean=1±0.50 fleas per cat). Echidnophaga gallinacea was found on 11/200 (5.5%) of cats (mean=14.8±9.63 fleas per cat). There was a significant difference (P=0.0005) in the average number of C. felis counted per cat between months. Mean counts in June (18.3±2.4) and July (16.6±2.1) were significantly (P<0.01) higher than in August (8.4±2.5) and September (7.7±2.0). Only 15/200 cats had skin disease. Flea infestation may potentially be the underlying cause in 10/15. Otoscopic examination of both ears revealed mite movement and black ceruminous exudate typically indicative of the presence of Otodectes cynotis in 45/200 (22.5%) cats. Examination of a swab specimen from both ear canals of all cats revealed O. cynotis in 74/200 (37%) cats. Of 74 cats positive on ear swab, 8 (10.8%) showed a normal ear canal appearance (no or mild ceruminous exudate) in both ears upon otoscopic examination. A total of nine ticks were recovered from five cats. The number and species of ticks recovered were: one adult female Rhipicephalus sanguineus; one adult female Amblyomma americanum; one adult male A. americanum; five adult female Dermacentor variabilis; and one adult female Ixodes scapularis. All superficial skin scrapes were negative. Hair clippings from the abdomen of all cats revealed 2/200 (1%) of the cats were infested with Felicola subrostratus.

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