Genetic Diversity and Seasonal Fluctuations of Cytauxzoon felis in Three Hosts: Bobcats (Lynx rufus), Domestic Cats (Felis catus) and Tick Vectors (Amblyomma americanum and Dermacentor variabilis)
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are the reservoir host for an intracellular blood protozoan parasite Cytauxzoon felis. This parasite can infect domestic cats and cause severe pathology and death; in bobcats the infection is asymptomatic. I am researching several aspects of this parasite in bobcats, domestic cats and the tick-vectors. I will examine several aspects of the parasite: (1) the prevalence of the parasite in southern Illinois bobcats, domestic cats and ticks and seasonal changes in these prevalences (2) the percentage of red blood cells infected by the parasite (parasitemia) and seasonal fluctuations of parasitemia in bobcats (3) determination of the genetic diversity of C. felis in bobcats, domestic cats and ticks (4) a comparison of the genetic diversity in the bobcats, domestic cats and tick-vectors. My research will lead to a better understanding of this parasite and how it affects the different hosts it infects.