Pet Owners Warned Of Bobcat Fever

Tuesday, June 30th 2009, 10:02 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

BEGGS, OK -- Pets in rural areas of northeast Oklahoma are falling prey to a deadly disease.  Some vets say they are seeing more cats die from bobcat fever.  The illness is almost always fatal, and experts say it's something pet owners need to keep an eye out for, especially this time of year.

At his veterinary clinic in Beggs, Dr. Gary Bynum says he is running into more and more cases of bobcat fever each year.

"It's terrible. We do all we can do, try to keep them on IVs and try to keep them hydrated and rehydrated. But, it's typically a losing situation," said Dr. Gary Bynum of Bynum Vet Clinic.

The illness gets is name, appropriately, because bobcats carry the parasite that causes it.  It's not fatal to them, but ticks that pick it up from the big cats pass it on to domestic ones.  

Symptoms include a high fever, jaundice, and lethargic behavior.  The fever is almost always fatal.

Vets say unfortunately there's not much that can be done to prevent your cat from getting bobcat fever, except they recommend keeping a close eye on them, and checking for ticks as often as possible.

"Even if you catch it early, there's nothing you can do to save them usually.  They've done some experimental treatments, but so far nothing is working yet," said Dr. Gary Bynum.

Between them, John Claborn and Linda Greene have lost five cats to bobcat fever.      

As ticks continue to show up in greater numbers over the summer months, they are urging other pet owners, especially those in rural areas, to be wary of the illness.

"I just hope people will keep them indoors, and some day come up with a cure because it's devastating," said John Claborn.

"This happens, and you hate to see an animal die this way. You really do," said Linda Greene.

Dr. Bynum says bobcat fever does not affect dogs.  The illness was first reported in Oklahoma and Missouri in the 1970's.  It has since spread to almost every state in the Midwest and the South.