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Fungal Infection (Histoplasmosis) in Cats

Histoplasmosis in Cats

Histoplasmosis refers to a fungal infection caused by the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus. It usually enters an animal's intestinal tract after being ingested through contaminated soil or bird droppings.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms for cats are lack of appetite, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. Other potential signs may include:

  • Coughing
  • Increased breathing effort and harsh lung sounds
  • Lameness
  • Eye discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, up to to 40 degrees Celsius (104.0 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Pale gums and moist body tissues (mucous membrane)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenitis)

Causes

The primary cause of this infection is the ingestion of the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus. The fungus may be breathed in when contaminated soil is disturbed, such as when a cat scratches at dirt that it has used for its own waste, or when your cat comes into contact with contaminated bird (including poultry) or bat droppings.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will want to differentiate the symptoms from heart failure, feline asthma, lymphoma, pyothorax, and fungal pneumonia. A chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis will be conducted. Blood tests may confirm the presence of histoplasma antibodies, although this only means that your cat has been exposed, not that it is in a diseased state. Further differential testing will either confirm or rule out the actual state of histoplasmosis.

 
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