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Bobcat Fever Popping Up In Southwest Missouri - KOAM TV 7

Bobcat Fever Popping Up In Southwest Missouri

Updated:
NEOSHO, MISSOURI -

    A family from Goodman is mourning the loss of their furry family member, their pet cat.
    But he died, from a disease many don't recognize, called "Bobcat Fever."
    And the number of cases, is on the rise.

It's name sounds almost exotic...Bobcat Fever...
However, it's anything but exotic...
Dr. Trisha Hefley, Midway Veterinary Clinic: "If not caught early it is highly fatal."
And for Monique Wheeler and her family, that was the case.
Wheeler says the morning her cat - Thomas O'Malley - passed away - it started off normally.
Monique Wheeler, Pet Parent: "I was loving on him, you know, petting him, gave him a kiss on the head."
By later that day - O'Malley was unable to stand on his own.
They rushed him to a veterinarian in Joplin, but it was too late.
Wheeler: "My husband came into the waiting room and told me he had to be put down."
As for Bobcat Fever in Newton and McDonald counties...
Dr. Hefley: "We see a lot of it in this region actually, I had never really heard of it before I started here about three years ago, and we probably treat 75 cases a year."
Dr. Hefley came down from Joplin - where it's not as prevalent. 
Dr. Hefley says she's treated about six cases in the last two weeks not counting the cases treated by the three other vet docs on staff.
She says the disease is transmitted by ticks - and typically only affects cats, and she strongly encourages everyone to keep up on flea and tick treatments, whether your pets go outside or not.
There's also some key symptoms to look for:
Dr. Hefley: "They'll go off feed, they may not want to drink, they'll get a little lethargic, sometimes we'll see a little bit of yellowing to the roof of their mouth or their eyes, the whites will turn a little yellow, or even insides of their ears can turn yellow as well."
A fever is also a key sign to look for.
Wheeler: "If I would have known I would have been watching for symptoms or tried to prevent it in anyway possible."
Wheeler says she posted on some local Facebook pet groups - and found a few others in the area who have lost cats to Bobcat Fever.
    Dr. Hefley says if not treated in the early stages, the average life expectancy is only one week.
 

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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