Coccidioidomycosis is a disease of animals and people caused by the fungus Coccidioides immitis. The fungus is most often found in desert soil and is most apt to spread in the dry, dusty season. It infects its victims by being inhaled into the lungs. It may be contained to the lungs (called the primary pulmonary form) by the body’s defenses or it may spread (called the disseminated form) from the lungs to the bones, heart, eyes, lymph nodes, reproductive organs, and skin. The skin lesions show up as nodules (bumps) with draining openings. Although inhaling the fungus is the common method of catching the disease, the discharge from wounds may also be a threat. If the discharge is left to collect on the bandage for an extended period, the fungus in the dried discharge could be inhaled. Therefore, changing bandages often enough to prevent accumulation of discharge on the bandage can decrease the danger to people.
The disease is treatable, but generally one can expect reasonably good results only in uncomplicated, early cases. The final outcome depends on the amount of damage caused by the fungus, the willingness of the owner to provide the time and effort in medicating the pet, and the pet’s own individual response and resistance to infection.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Laboratory tests, including complete blood counts, serum chemistry profiles, cultures, and radiographs (x-rays), provide an overview of your pet’s organ system and general physical condition. It is important for certain tests to be repeated at intervals to monitor the response to treatment.
2. Treatment may be required for extended periods because the disease may recur after treatment is stopped.
3. There is little or no risk of direct transmission of the disease from your pet to people unless bandages are not changed frequently.