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Evaluation of topical application of 10% imidacloprid–1% moxidectin to prevent Bartonella henselae transmission from cat fleas

Christina A. Bradbury DVM1 and Michael R. Lappin DVM, PhD, DACVIM2
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether monthly topical administration of a combination of 10% imidacloprid and 1% moxidectin would lessen flea (Ctenocephalides felis) transmission of Bartonella henselae among cats.

Design—Controlled trial.

Animals—18 specific pathogen–free cats housed in 3 groups of 6.

Procedures—3 enclosures were separated by mesh to allow fleas to pass among groups yet prevent cats from contacting one another. One group was inoculated IV with B henselae, and after infection was confirmed, the cats were housed in the middle enclosure. This infected group was flanked by a group that was treated topically with 10% imidacloprid–1% moxidectin monthly for 3 months and by an untreated group. On days 0, 15, 28, and 42, 100 fleas/cat were placed on each of the 6 cats in the B henselae–infected group. Blood samples were collected from all cats weekly for detection of Bartonella spp via PCR assay, bacterial culture, and serologic assay.

ResultsB henselae infection was confirmed in the cats infected IV and in all untreated cats after flea exposure; none of the cats treated with the imidacloprid-moxidectin combination became infected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In this setting, monthly topical administration of 10% imidacloprid–1% moxidectin reduced flea infestation, compared with infestation in untreated cats, and thus prevented flea transmission of B henselae to treated cats. Regular monthly use of this flea control product in cats may lessen the likelihood of humans acquiring B henselae infection.

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether monthly topical administration of a combination of 10% imidacloprid and 1% moxidectin would lessen flea (Ctenocephalides felis) transmission of Bartonella henselae among cats.

Design—Controlled trial.

Animals—18 specific pathogen–free cats housed in 3 groups of 6.

Procedures—3 enclosures were separated by mesh to allow fleas to pass among groups yet prevent cats from contacting one another. One group was inoculated IV with B henselae, and after infection was confirmed, the cats were housed in the middle enclosure. This infected group was flanked by a group that was treated topically with 10% imidacloprid–1% moxidectin monthly for 3 months and by an untreated group. On days 0, 15, 28, and 42, 100 fleas/cat were placed on each of the 6 cats in the B henselae–infected group. Blood samples were collected from all cats weekly for detection of Bartonella spp via PCR assay, bacterial culture, and serologic assay.

ResultsB henselae infection was confirmed in the cats infected IV and in all untreated cats after flea exposure; none of the cats treated with the imidacloprid-moxidectin combination became infected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In this setting, monthly topical administration of 10% imidacloprid–1% moxidectin reduced flea infestation, compared with infestation in untreated cats, and thus prevented flea transmission of B henselae to treated cats. Regular monthly use of this flea control product in cats may lessen the likelihood of humans acquiring B henselae infection.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Bradbury's present address is Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Supported by Bayer Animal Health.

Presented in abstract form at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, Montreal, June 2009.

The authors thank Dr. Steven Radecki for assistance with the statistical analysis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Bradbury (cabrad@colostate.edu).