Fungal Diseases in Cats (cont.)

Histoplasmosis

This disease is caused by a fungus found in the central United States near the Great Lakes, the Appalachian Mountains, Texas, and the valleys of the Mississippi, Ohio, and St. Lawrence Rivers. In these areas, the nitrogen-rich soil facilitates growth of the causative fungus (Histoplasma capsulatum).

In the majority of cats, histoplasmosis is an insidious disease with fever, loss of appetite, weakness, weight loss, and debilitation. The liver, respiratory system, eyes, and skin may be involved. Lameness may be noted.

Treatment: Successful treatment with antifungal drugs, such as itraconazole, depends on early diagnosis. Despite treatment, most cats die from this infection. Mild respiratory cases have the best prognosis

Sporotrichosis

This uncommon skin infection is caused by fungus spores in the soil. These spores usually gain access through a break in the skin. Other routes of infection are by ingesting or inhaling spores. The disease is most common among male cats who prowl in thorny underbrush or sharp prairie grass. Most cases are reported in the northern and central portions of the United States, along river valleys and in coastal areas.

A nodule forms at the site of a skin wound, usually on the feet or legs, the face, or the base of the tail. The hair over the nodule falls out, leaving a moist, ulcerated surface. In some cases there is little surface reaction, but you may see several small firm nodules beneath the skin that appear to form a chain.

This article is excerpted from “Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.