Fungal Disease (Sporotrichosis) of the Skin in Cats
Sporotrichosis in Cats
Sporothrix schenckii is a fungus that has the potential to infect the skin, respiratory system, bones and sometimes the brain, causing a diseased state called sporotrichosis. Infection is caused by the virtually ubiquitous dimorphic (mold and yeast) fungus, S. schenckii, which typically infects via direct inoculation - that is, through abrasions of the skin or by inhalation. The origin of the fungus is environmental; it is naturally found in soil, plants and sphagnum moss, but it can be communicated zoonotically between different animal species, and between animals and humans.
Cats tend to experience a severe form of cutaneous sporotrichosis, making them an even greater risk for transmitting the infection to other animals and people. In cats, intact male cats that roam outdoors and fight are predisposed to puncture wounds, which then offer an advantageous route for S. schenckii to enter the body. The infection may also be spread by other cats, often through scratches to the skin.
Symptoms and Types
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis.
It is important to note that this is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it is communicable to humans and other animals, and proper precautions will need to be taken to prevent the spread of infection. Even if you do not have a break in your skin, you are not protected against acquiring the disease.
An examination of the fluid from the lesions is often necessary to confirm an infection. A negative finding does not always rule out the disease. Laboratory cultures of the deeply affected tissue often require surgery to obtain an adequate sample. These samples will be sent for analysis, along with a special note to the laboratory listing sporotrichosis as a differential diagnosis. Secondary bacterial infections are common.
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