What are Sporotrichosis?
Sporotrichosis is a sporadic, chronic disease caused by the organism, Sporothrix schenckii that is found on timber, vegetation and in the soil. Sporotrichosis is a rare but potentially fatal fungal disease that cats and humans can contract, as the fungus easily enters the body through open sores on the skin. Sporotrichosis commonly appears as localized lesions of the nose, ears, and face of the feline, but can affect other portions of the body if left untreated.
Symptoms of Sporotrichosis in Cats
The symptoms a feline may experience depend on the type of Sporotrichosis the cat has contracted.
- Small, firm skin bumps
- 1-3 cm in diameter
- Ulcerating lesions with discharge
- Lesion are commonly seen on the pinnae (tips of the ears), nose and head.
- Swollen lymph glands
- Lymph disease
- Dermal lesions
- Skin crusts with drainage
- Osteoarticular sporotrichosis: when the fungal infection spreads to the joints and bones.
- Sporotrichosis meningitis: when the fungal infection spreads to the nervous system and brain.
- Cachexia (weight loss)
The fungal disease, sporotrichosis, can be grouped into three forms: Lymphocutaneous, cutaneous, disseminated.
- Lymphocutaneous: the most common form of sporotrichosis, lymphocutaneous, is characterized by small, firm subcutaneous nodules.
- Cutaneous: characterized by multicentric lesions that tend to remain localized.
- Disseminated: a rare form of sporotrichosis, disseminated is potentially fatal and often results from neglect to lymphocutaneous or cutaneous stages of the fungal infection.
Causes of Sporotrichosis in Cats
A cat can become infected with sporotrichosis by coming into direct contact with the organism through wounds on the skin. As the fungus is found on various plants, a can become infected by penetrating foreign bodies (plant scratching the skin) or consuming one of these host plants. However, cats have a higher rate of contracting the infection if they are inflicted with a puncture wound, which gives the sporotrichosis organism a chance to enter the body. Cats that pose a risk for contracting the fungal disease include:
- Fighting male cats
- Multiple household cats
- Immunosuppressive felines
- Felines around decaying organic debris
Diagnosis of Sporotrichosis in Cats
Sporotrichosis in cats is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms associated with this disease mimic that of other cutaneous conditions. Therefore, your veterinarian will want to begin the diagnostic process by reviewing your feline’s medical history and asking you a series of questions about the feline’s recent activities. Recent cat fights, outdoor exposure, and contact with decomposing debris, such as garden compost, will be helpful in the veterinarian’s diagnosis.
In order to eliminate other possible conditions causing dermal lesions, your veterinarian will want to perform a differential diagnosis. In order to pinpoint your cat’s condition to a sporotrichosis infection, the vet will first want to rule out the possibility of a drug eruption, parasite allergy, immune-mediated disease, lupus, squamous cell carcinoma, or a bacterial pyoderma. Therefore, blood work, a urinalysis, and skin cytology will be performed on the feline to further examine his/her condition.
Sporotrichosis has a distinctive cytological feature compared to other lesion-causing skin diseases, which is often diagnosed via cytological evaluation of the skin sample. A sample can be obtained through a skin scraping, smear of a specimen swab, ulcerated skin impressions, or aspiration of the nodule or present abscess.
Treatment of Sporotrichosis in Cats
Treating felines for fungal disease of the skin has proven to be somewhat of a challenge for veterinary practitioners. There is a variety of medical drug therapies a vet can use, however, many are not approved for animal use and have notable adverse effects. Talk to your veterinarian about possible adverse reactions caused by the drug chosen for treating your cat’s sporotrichosis and the appropriate way to monitor the feline at home. Therapeutic treatments can last anywhere from three weeks to a month and your vet may choose to continue well after the apparent clinical cure. Traditional drugs used to treat cats with Sporotrichosis include the following:
- Sodium iodide
- Potassium iodide
Recovery of Sporotrichosis in Cats
Follow all veterinary directions and complete the duration of therapeutic treatment, even if the cat is no longer showing signs of illness. Sporotrichosis is commonly treated for at least a week past the point of apparent cure to ensure the fungal spores are removed entirely from the body, so make sure to complete the entire treatment plan. Adverse drug effects are common in cats receiving treatments for sporotrichosis, therefore, your veterinarian will ask for you to monitor the patient carefully at home. A feline showing any clinical signs of adverse effects will need to be taken to the vet clinic right away, as these adverse effects can be fatal.
Sporotrichosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hi.. my cat has been diagnose with Spirotrichosis. We have been giving him Itraconazole 100g for almost two months. Unfortunately, he is getting weaker as he did not eat much nowadays.
He has a wound on his nose and it keeps on bleeding and sometime his lips as well.. apart from that he also has a runny nose and he kept on sneezing.
Is there anything else that I can do to help ease his pain? And maybe to help him to breath better? And is there any other medication that I could use on its wound? And perhaps to stop the bleeding.
Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.
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My cat was diagnosed with sporothricosis more than a month ago. It started with a wound on his tail. I tried using normal ointment to treat it but the hole keeps on getting bigger so I brought him to the vet and there he was diagnosed with sporo. I started him on sporanox and have been diligently cleaning and treating his wound. It turned out great as the hole closed up after a month and all his lumps on his body were getting smaller. But for the past week, all of a sudden the lumps started appearing more and getting bigger. Even on his tail (his closed wound) there were lumps. He also started limping and I could see that the lumps were hurting him because he would cry out in pain everytime I touched it. Brought him to the vet again the other day and they started him on antibiotics to see whether the lumps would shrink. But it's not shrinking and more lumps would start appearing. And I noticed he's eating very little and pooping very little as well. I'm very worried. What should I do?
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Hi, I am based in Singapore (a tropical country) and the cat I recently rescued is diagnosed with Sporotrichosis and this is the first-second case in Singapore which I was informed by my vet. She is being isolated at the moment & receiving Itraconazole as treatment. I understand it is zoonotic and I have another cat staying in the same household. May I get some advice on how to ensure the healthy cat is safe? How does Sporotrichosis spread and what are the chances even though the impacted cat is isolated now? I make sure my hands are disinfected before and after I touch her.
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