U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

From Haemobartonella to hemoplasma: Molecular methods provide new insights

Willi, B., Boretti, F.S., Tasker, S., Meli, M.L., Wengi, N., Reusch, C.E., Lutz, H., Hofmann-Lehmann, R.
Veterinary microbiology 2007 v.125 no.3-4 pp. 197-209
disease reservoirs, anemia, antibiotics, cats, disease prevalence, strain differences, risk factors, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, mycoplasmosis, disease transmission, pathogen identification, pathogenicity, cat diseases, molecular epidemiology, Mycoplasma haemofelis, pathogenesis, Mycoplasma haemominutum
Hemotropic mycoplasmas (aka hemoplasmas) are the causative agents of infectious anemia in numerous mammalian species. Originally known as Haemobartonella and Eperythrozoon species, these organisms have been reclassified within the genus Mycoplasma. The development of new molecular assays has expanded our knowledge of this heterogeneous group of agents and allowed us to study their epidemiology and pathogenesis. The present review summarizes recently gained insights into feline hemotropic mycoplasmas, formerly known as Haemobartonella felis. Besides the two initially identified feline hemoplasma species, Mycoplasma haemofelis and Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum, we discovered a third novel hemoplasma in a Swiss pet cat; preliminary results suggest that the pathogenic potential of the latter agent depends on cofactors. In applying PCR-based assays, feline hemoplasma infections have been documented in domestic cats and wild felids worldwide. Differences between the three hemoplasmas in regard to response to antibiotic treatment and establishment of a carrier status have been reported. Additionally, besides an ostensible vector-borne transmission, direct transmission by aggressive interaction of cats or interspecies transmission might play a role in the epidemiology of these organisms. Based on a potential vector-borne and interspecies transmission, a zoonotic potential of hemoplasmas should be further investigated.