Cryptococcosis in dogs is systemic fungal infection affecting skin, eyes, respiration and the nervous system. Cryptococcosis is found in soil and bird droppings. Pigeons droppings are especially bad. It is easy to diagnose and it can successfully be cured it treated in its early stages.
The infection is picked up through open sores and by inhalation. It is an opportunistic fungus, infecting dogs with suppressed immune systems. As such it is known to infect twenty percent of AIDS patients.
Symptoms of Cryptococcosis
Puppys under one year, tend to have the infection quite severely, with the infection first showing up as lesions on the lungs, facial regions, legs, and the cerebral cavities. It rapidly spreads to their central nervous system and eyes. Organs most usually involved include the kidneys, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, heart valves, tonsils, GI tract, and muscles. If the brain is involved the dog will show signs of circling, staggering, behavior changes, accompanied by sneezing, coughing, nasal and eye discharge, and in some cases, blindness. There is little success in treatment when the infection has spread to this point.
Diagnosis of Cryptococcosis
Cryptococcus is best diagnosed by examining the discharge from skin or nose lesions under a microscope. Blood tests are also valuable, especially the latex agglutination test. Cultures or biopsies can also be used in diagnosis.
Oral medications itraconazole or ketoconazole are usually prescribed. The transfer to humans is unlikely but caution is advised.
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