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Fungal Diseases in Cats

Cryptococcosis continued...

Cutaneous cryptococcosis, which occurs in 25 percent of cases, frequently produces a firm swelling over the bridge of the nose. The face and neck are other common sites.

Neurologic cryptococcosis can show a variety of signs, depending on where the infection is located. These include blindness, seizures, and vestibular signs, such as incoordination or a head tilt. The diagnosis can be made by fungus culture or tissue biopsy. Often, the organisms can be identified in a smear from the nasal discharge. A cryptococcus latex agglutination test is available.

Treatment: Oral antifungal drugs of the imidazole group, such as ketoconazole, are effective when started early in the course of the disease. Fluconazole and itraconazole are newer drugs that are far better tolerated by cats. These drugs are slow acting. Treatment is prolonged. If those drugs are not successful, amphotercin B or flucytosine can be tried, but they are medications of last resort because they have many serious side effects.


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


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.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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