What is Zygomycosis ?
Zygomycosis is a rare skin disease which is caused by Zygomycetes, a type of fungi. The types of fungi responsible for this disease are the Rhizopus and the Mucor, and in some cases can be caused by other fungi types. Commonly found within the soil, they may have contact with your dog’s skin and coat if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors within heavily-soiled areas and among decayed vegetation. This is another place in which the fungi are found.
Zygomycosis may also be used interchangeably with phycomycosis, phycomycosis, and mucormycosis, as all of these conditions are caused by specific, yet unique, types of fungi. This infectious pathology-type illness can occur more so in dogs with immunosuppressive diseases.
Zygomycosis is a rare disorder that can become quite serious and life-threatening, especially if the heart or surrounding areas of the heart are involved. However, in animals that are affected by autoimmune diseases or other form of serious disease, being subjected to the fungal infection can be more serious in nature. The skin may develop larger ulcerations or lesions, and the skin may have a significant amount of drainage. Similar fungal infections that have very similar symptoms are conidiobolomycosis and basidiobolomycosis.
Zygomycosis in dogs is a fungal infection caused by a specific fungus known as Zygomycetes. This rare fungal infection can be quite serious if antifungal treatment is not received.
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Symptoms of Zygomycosis in Dogs
Symptoms of zygomycosis may be mild to severe. Severe zygomycosis can be quite discomforting and life-threatening if it goes untreated. Symptoms may include:
- Nodules in specific areas of the body
- Pain in the affected area
- Pneumonia or lung conditions
- Skin lesions, sometimes very raw, draining, and red
Zygomycosis is characterized by specific fungi invading a dog’s system. The fungi are common environmental inhabitants and contaminants. Specific fungi that causes this disorder are:
- Rhizopus spp.
Causes of Zygomycosis in Dogs
Zygomycosis is caused by fungi, and may vary in severity from dog to affected dog. Reports of dogs affected with zygomycosis have occurred in many parts of the world, including Australia and the United States. Specific causes include:
- Inhalation of specific, harmful fungi by a dog
- Fungi entering an open wound of a dog
- Eating of a plant or debris that contains harmful fungi
Diagnosis of Zygomycosis in Dogs
If your dog has symptoms of zygomycosis, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Once you take your dog to the veterinarian, he will ask a series of questions about your dog’s symptoms and any types of behaviors he is having. He will take blood work, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. He will also do any other physical examination components he feels are necessary.
The veterinarian will take a closer look at the skin condition of your companion, and will want to test the fluid and send it off for a biopsy in order to confirm a diagnosis. There is also a blood test that is being conducted on people that is currently being researched. This simple blood test may be able to diagnose this fungal infection of the skin, and may one day be used on dogs.
There is a differential diagnosis in which the veterinarian is aware of, known as cutaneous habronemiasis, which has similar symptoms. The veterinarian will be able to successfully differentiate the two by performing laboratory testing on the tissues of the affected areas. Once the culture is successful, the veterinarian will come to a conclusive diagnosis of zygomycosis.
Treatment of Zygomycosis in Dogs
In terms of treatment, the veterinarian will seek the best treatment options for your dog. The type of medications given and whether your dog will need to be hospitalized depends on the severity of his condition. Treatment methods may include:
Certain antifungal medications are effective at treating this condition. These medications may need to be given for long term usage in order to remain a viable option for your dog. This treatment is considered if your dog has an infection of the nasopharynx.
Surgery is typically the treatment of choice for skin nodules and the surrounding tissues. This may require your dog to stay overnight or as long as the veterinary surgeon feels is necessary. Medications such as potassium iodide, amphotericin B, and benzimidazoles may be given after the surgery for the long term.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with zygomycosis, your veterinarian will want to see him on a regular basis. Observation and monitoring of this fungal infection will be necessary to be sure it does not spread any further.
Recovery of Zygomycosis in Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with this fungal infection and promptly treated thereafter, his prognosis is fair to good, depending on the severity of his illness. It is important that he receives proper antifungal medications before the zygomycosis gets to a point that is very hard to get a handle on.
For the first day to day three of treatment, your dog may have significant side effects. Fungal infections are very hard to clear up, and the antifungal medications may be quite strong at first. Talk to your medical professional about possible side effects, what to expect, and when you should contact him if need be.
In cases where the fungal infections have not spread to the heart or lungs, your dog will be able to recover if it is caught early and he responds to treatment. An inflammatory response may be triggered as the strong medications kill the fungal organisms within, and if so, please contact your veterinarian if you see any new symptoms or become concerned about his side effects, especially with any respiratory distress.
Encourage your companion to get plenty of rest, and be sure he is eating and drinking properly. You will need to properly monitor him during his recovery and the veterinarian will want to see him again for follow-up visits once the medication takes effect to be sure he is making progress.