Histoplasmosis is a chronic, and non-infectious condition caused by the soil-dwelling fungus Histoplasma Capsulatum. The fungus is found throughout the world. Dogs in most cases get the infection by either inhaling or ingesting fungal spores that reach the bottom airways where they set up a localized colony by constantly multiplying. These microscopic creatures can enter the body through the mouth of any being. Then they start the chemical process of infecting the intestine. The infection can stay in the intestine at a stretch or can spread to other parts of the body.
How does it affect the dogs?
Spreading in the whole body will create a condition called systematic infection. Many times, the fungus establishes itself in the lymph nodes, or in places like the liver, spleen, bone marrow, eyes, or under the skin. Research says that a prolonged interaction with the fungi can result in making the dog more vulnerable to the condition. Most dogs who suffer from this condition are large breeds during their young age. Breeds like the Pointers, Weimaraners, and Brittany spaniels are naturally predisposed to the condition.
The clinical signs of the condition are non-specific and variable, which includes:
- Fever with less intensity
- Can suffer from depression
- Reduction in appetite
If the lungs become the den for the disease, the dog can have:
- Severe coughing
- Forced breathing
If the infection involves the intestinal tract, signs will include:
- Stools with blood stain
- Problems in the bowel movement
If the disease becomes systematic, the vet may detect enlarged organs such as the spleen, liver, or in the lymph nodes of the body. Evidence of ulceration in the intestinal tract or the throat can be found. The infection can also bother the eyes and the joint movement. Symptoms appear after the second or third month of getting in contact with the infection.
Often the dog will have vague and unspecified signs, so the vet will suggest some instrumental tests and examinations. They include urinalysis, Xrays, and most importantly a blood test. The result of these beforementioned tests will pave the way for future actions regarding treating the condition. Histopathology, along with cytology is necessary to examine the condition.
Sadly, not all the pets will survive the condition. In the contemporary setup, there are some anti-fungal agents like itraconazole and fluconazole which can provide considerable relief to the patient. These agents have fewer side effects as compared to the drugs commonly used for the condition.
Upon suffering from such an infection, the dog will need at least six months of treatment to fix the issue. These medications can have toxic effects, so to reduce the chances of such a scenario, the dog will need close monitoring by using ways like regular blood tests and Xrays.
The prognosis for the condition is tough to forecast. A dog in the severe stages of the condition can hang in between life and death, and eventually surrender itself to death. Dogs suffering from the condition limited to the lungs have a better chance of survival. Contrary to popular belief, if the infection spreads to areas like the eyes, the ocular environment will be the first target for infection.