• Open Access

Efficacy of Atovaquone and Azithromycin or Imidocarb Dipropionate in Cats with Acute Cytauxzoonosis


  • This study was designed jointly at the University of Missouri (UMC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU). An abstract of this work was presented at the ACVIM Forum in Anaheim, CA, June 2010. It was managed and data collated at UMC. Genetic testing and PCR testing were conducted at NCSU.

Corresponding author: L. A. Cohn, University of Missouri, 900 E. Campus Drive, Columbia, MO 65211; e-mail: cohnl@missouri.edu.


Background: Imidocarb or a combination of atovaquone and azithromycin (A&A) has been suggested for treatment of cats with cytauxzoonosis, but neither has been prospectively evaluated for efficacy.

Hypothesis/Objectives: That survival to hospital discharge is improved by treatment with A&A as compared with imidocarb.

Animals: Eighty acutely ill cats with Cytauxzoon felis infection treated at one of 18 veterinary clinics in 5 states.

Methods: An open-label, randomized prospective study compared survival in cats treated with atovaquone (15 mg/kg PO q8h) and azithromycin (10 mg/kg PO q24h) or imidocarb (3.5 mg/kg IM). All received heparin, fluids, and supportive care. Clinical and clinicopathologic data from initial presentation were collated. Parasitemia was quantified (n = 79) and pathogens genotyped (n = 60). Logistic regression was used to determine the impact of treatment group on the primary endpoint, survival to hospital discharge or death. Covariants were analyzed by rank-sum testing.

Results: Of 53 cats treated with A&A, 32 (60%) survived to discharge while only 7 of 27 cats (26%) treated with imidocarb survived (P= .0036; odds ratio 7.2, 95% CI 2.2, 24). Cats with a lower parasitemia were more likely to survive, as were cats with higher white blood cell counts and lower total bilirubin. Unique pathogen genotypes were identified from 15 cats, while genotype isolated from 21 cats had been described previously. There were multiple pathogen genotypes identified in 24 cats.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Survival to discharge was more likely in cats treated with A&A as compared with imidocarb, although case fatality rate remained high.