This disease is caused by the yeast-like fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, is acquired by inhaling spores contaminated by bird droppings, especially those of pigeons.
In dogs, cryptococcosis involves the brain, eyes, lymph nodes, and skin. About 50% of dogs with this fungus will also show respiratory signs. Signs of brain involvement are an unsteady gait, pressing the head against a hard surface or standing with the head up against a wall, circling, seizures, blindness, and dementia. Involvement of the inner structures of the eyes leads to this blindness.
In the less common form that infects the skin, cryptococcosis produces firm nodules, primarily in the head area, that ulcerate and drain puss.
Cryptococcosis is acquired by inhaling spores contaminated by bird droppings, especially those of pigeons.
The diagnosis is made by fungal culture and/or tissue biopsy. A cryptococcus latex agglutination test is available.
Oral antifungal drugs of the imidazole group are partially effective when started early in the course of the disease. The response is uncertain and treatment is prolonged. The overall prognosis for dogs is guarded to poor.
Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have this condition.
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