Cryptococcosis is the result of a fungus that is spread throughout North America. Its primary source is pigeon feces, but it can be found in other birds, animals and on the skin of people. It is also noted to be a disease that twenty percent of AIDS patients have. Treatment is easy and effective if it is begun at the start of symptoms.
How do dogs get infected?
The primary source of the infection is contracted through inhalation. The fungus is airborne and consequently not easy to see or to prevent. Once the fungus is settled in the nose or lungs it can either progress in immune suppressed dogs or people or isolate itself and never manifest symptoms. Dogs with a history of excessive steroid use and consequently a suppressed immune system can have resultant pneumonia or other systemic diseases.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of the disease are varied. Dogs that are infected are usually young adults and there are no specific breed choices except the American Cocker Spaniel, which seems to be more easily infected. Symptoms can include eye problems, neurological problems, Dog Weight Loss and skin lesions. Runny nose, Dog Fever and Dog Coughs have also been seen in some dogs.
Oral antifungul medications are the primary treatment. This will not be a short term treatment. Consequently it can become quite expensive. It will be necessary to cooperate with your veterinarian to establish an adequate care plan for treatment for your dog.
With a primary immunosuppressing disease as the underlying culprit, the veterinarian will choose to do a complete workup on your dog. In this way the causative disease can be treated and lead to a more successful recovery.
The only way to prevent contracting Cryptococcus is to avoid areas that are littered with pigeon feces. Dogs that are residing in some cities are more prone to the disease because of the huge pigeon population. If it is at all possible, these dogs need to be exercised in areas that pigeons do not normally inhabit.
Steroids are notorious for depressing the immune system. In younger dogs they may be used to treat specific symptoms of other diseases or Dog Allergies. As anti-inflammatory drugs, they may work quickly, but should be discontinued slowly and the dog should be placed on one of the other anti-inflammatory agents that are available.
Supportive treatment for your sick dog is necessary with this as it is with any other disease. It will be necessary to medicate your dog as your veterinarian prescribes and do it regularly. Observe your dog for relief of symptoms and side effects from the medication. Some anti-fungal medications can be upsetting to the dog’s stomach and should be given with food. Ask your vet if this is the case.
If your dog does exhibit signs of stomach upset, try giving the medication with food to see if the vomiting subsides. If it does not, contact your vet for a possible alternative medication.
The risk of transmitting Cryptococcus to humans is negligible. It is also very uncommon to transmit it to other pets within the same household.