In order to determine the importance of wild felids in the epidemiology of Bartonella spp. infection, 136 Nobuto strips or serum samples from free-ranging mountain lions (Felis concolor) and bobcats (Felis rufus) captured in California (USA) between 1985 and 1996 were tested for B. henselae antibodies (titer ≥ 1:64) using an immunofluorescence test. Similarly, 124 serum samples from 114 captive wild cats representing 26 species or subspecies collected between 1991 and 1995 were retrieved from the serum banks of four California zoological parks. Fifty-three percent (33/62) of the bobcats, 35% (26/74) of the mountain lions, and 30% (34/114) of the captive wild felids (genera Acinonyx, Panthera and Felis) had B. henselae antibodies. In captive wild felids, prevalence varied widely among the species, but seropositivity was more likely to occur in the genus Felis than in the genus Acinonyx or Panthera. Prevalence was evenly distributed between sexes, except for free-ranging mountain lions. Antibody prevalence ranged from 25% in 0- to 2-yr-old captive felids to 35% in cats ≥9-yr-old, but the highest antibody' titers were observed in cats <5-yr-old.
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