A novel PCR assay was developed in order to examine the prevalence of Haemobartonella felis (H. felis) in Japanese domestic cats and which was able to differentiate of the Ohio strain and the California strain of H. felis. Blood samples from a total of 21 cats suspected of having haemobartonellosis were examined employing a novel PCR assay and demonstrated positive results in 18 cats which was confirmed by cytological examination of blood smears. Four out of 18 positive cats (22%) were infected with the California strain, whilst the other 12 cats (67%) were infected with the Ohio strain and two animals (11%) were infected with both strains. As most of the cats with moderate to severe anemia were infected with the Ohio strain, it is suggested that the most prevalent strain of H. felis in Japanese domestic cats might be the Ohio strain. In the present study, it was thought that molecular detection and characterization of H. felis may provide valuable information regarding the severity and prognosis of this illness.
2003 by the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science