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Brain and Spinal Cord Inflammation (Meningoencephalomyelitis, Eosinophilic) in Cats

Meningoencephalomyelitis in Cats

 

Although rare in cats, eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis is a condition that causes the inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and their membranes due to abnormally high numbers of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Often, the increase of eosinophils is in response to a parasite infection, tumor or allergic reaction in the cat.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

Symptoms vary in location and severity, but are often related to the nervous system such as circling, loss of memory, seizures and blindness.

 

Causes

 

It is common for the underlying cause to the eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis to be idiopathic (or unknown) in nature. Other typical factors associated with this disease include:

 

  • Allergies (also common)
  • Tumors
  • Parasite infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Vaccinations

 

Diagnosis

 

You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination and several laboratory tests -- such as complete blood count (CBC), blood culture biochemistry profile, and urinalysis -- to help identify and isolate the cause of inflammation.

 

Blood testing may reveal abnormally high number of eiosinophils in the blood. Biochemistry profiling, for example, may show abnormal liver enzyme activity, indicating parasitic infections. And magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may reveal tumorous lesions in the cat's brain or spinal cord.

 

One of the most important diagnostic tests, however, is CSF (or cerebrospinal fluid) analysis. A sample of your cat's CSF will be collected and sent to a laboratory for culturing and further evaluation. In case of idiopathic or allergic causes, abnormally high numbers of eiosinophils are seen in the CSF. Tumors, meanwhile, are generally associated with an abnormally low number of white blood cells along with a small number of eiosinophils in the CSF.

 
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