Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Mycoplasma is a bacterium that characteristically lacks a cell wall which unlike many bacteria means they are more resistant to traditional antibiotics. This bacterium can negatively affect the respiratory system, urinary tract, joints, and/or reproductive system.
Generally, it is non-pathogenic but, in some cases, it can be, resulting in illness.
There are hundreds of species with a wide spectrum some of which can affect humans. The bacteria is present in the environment in general and is very common.
In human women it has been known to cause pelvic inflammatory disease increasing the prevalence of premature birth, abortion, infertility and inflammation of the cervix.
Most commonly the bacteria causes respiratory disease such as pneumonia however it can infect other parts of the body and even lead to anemia depending on the mycoplasma species.
Symptoms can include:
Lack of appetite
Yellowing of skin (Icterus or Jaundice) Pale skin and mucous membranes Nasal or ocular (eye) discharge
If infection is also present, you will notice:
Urinary tract infection
Reproductive problems (including miscarriage and poor fetal development)
If pussy nasal discharge is present, there is a bacterial component at play
Many healthy animals do not show symptoms but is common in the very young, very old or those with poor immune systems
The bacteria can shed one month or so after infection
This particular bacterium, can survive even without oxygen. Direct contact with other effected cats including via saliva or cat fights is common as well as contact with eye and nasal secretions. Mothers can pass the bacteria on to their kittens.
In the anemia-based mycoplasma’s fleas are usually the culprit however ticks, lice, flies and mosquitos are not out of the question.
This bacteria, is the smallest bacteria known to science at this time and cannot always be detected under the microscope. A polymerase chain reaction or PCR is best for detecting this bacteria, however blood and urine can be used to detect it as well.
Treatment will be based on the severity of the symptoms and where an infection is located.
Treatment may need to be given over a period of time to completely eradicate the illness.
Antibiotics can be used to treat over a 7-10 day period however further treatment may be needed. Doxycycline ((some suggest 10mg/kg others 3mg/lb twice a day with food or at least water) is often the antibiotic of choice however some species are resistant or fail to cleanse infected blood in anemia causing species. Note that doxycycline can cause irritation to the throat so a teaspoon of water is advised with the tablet to prevent this.
Enrofloxacin (5mg/kg) than is the next drug of choice. Be aware that high doses should be avoid as it can cause retinal degeneration.
Be aware that cats treated with Enrofloxacin or marbofloxacin still test positive for mycoplasma in PCR results.
Pain management and anti-inflammations may be required. Isolation of the cats/kittens is highly recommended to prevent spreading of mycoplasma
Keeping the area clean when cats/kittens are being isolated is important to prevent spreading as well. 70% ethanol has been proven to kill mycoplasma in 5 minutes
Reducing stress in these cats especially carriers is important to prevent shedding.
Many of the tests available have failed to culture or isolate mycoplasma so empirical evidence is the diagnosis of choice.
Herbs such as:
St. John’s Wort
Homeopathic remedy such as:
Aconitum napellus 30C
Nux vomica 30C
Natrum muriaticum 6C, or Pulsatilla 30C followed by Silicea 30C.
No vaccine available