57: Sporotrichosis | In loving memory of Syukor the cat.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

I am writing this post to spread awareness for Sporotrichosis, a fungal infection that infected my cat, Syukor. Yesterday, he was put to sleep due to a few reasons. Although there were possibilities of recovery for Syukor, we were forced to end his suffering because we were afraid that he would spread the disease to other people and other cats. Since his condition was already severe, he needed to be on medication for more than 2 months. The first vet we went to even said that it could go on to a year until he gets cured. We had nobody to take care of him for that long. I was willing, but I am going to go back to university in less than 2 weeks. After weighing my options, I decided to have him euthanized. It was very hard. We raised Syukor since he was a stray kitten and we all loved him dearly, but I couldn't let him suffer any longer with no one to take care of him. This post is dedicated to Syukor. Thank you for the countless night of keeping me company while I was studying or when I was lonely. I hope you are well fed and happily sleeping in front of many fridge doors in cat heaven :')

Note: This post is mainly for cases of Sporotrichosis in cats.
What is Sporotrichosis?
Sporotrichosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Sporothrix schenckii. The fungus lives throughout the world in soil, plants, and decaying vegetation. It is also known as "Rose gardener's disease". The most common form of the infection is the cutaneous (skin) infection. In rare cases, the disease can infect the lung and cause respiratory pneumonia in humans.
Sporothrix schenckii

How does one get infected with Sporotrichosis?
In cats, the disease is transmitted from a bite or scratch of a contaminated cat while fighting. Humans can get infected with Sporotrichosis if he/she comes in contact with the sore lesions found on the cat's body or is scratched or bitten by the infected cat. 

Symptoms of Sporotrichosis (in cats) | warning: pictures of wounds
click on image to enlarge

Lesions (like above) appear to be on the legs, head, or areas of the body that could've been injured during a cat fight. The fungal spores can be transferred to the rear end of the infected cat when the cat licks it's wounds and then proceeded to lick it's anus. The cat may also develop fevers, loss of appetite and become more aggressive. 

Diagnosis for Sporotrichosis
The obvious symptoms can right away tell you that your cat has Sporotrichosis. To confirm, the vet will take samples from the lesion drainage and look it under the microscope.

Treatment for Sporotrichosis
The cat must be consistently fed anti-fungal medication for a period of 1-2 months, daily. Antibiotics will not work because this is a fungal infection and not a bacterial infection. Depending on the severity, it can also reach a year until the cat is fully cured.

Prevention of Sporotrichosis
Keep your cats indoors and neuter them. This will make them less likely to fight with other cats. 
Okay, this will be my own rant. If you know your cat is the type that likes to pick fights with stray cats and see the similar lesions I've shown above on your cat, do not attempt to treat it yourself. Bring your cat straight to the vet and have it's wounds tested. Do it while your cat still has the appetite to eat and hasn't developed a fever yet, because that would make it easier to feed the medication (if it has Sporotrichosis). You must quarantine your cat in a cage to prevent it from spreading the spores to humans and other animals. A scratch or bite from the cat can easily transfer the spores to you. The person taking care of the infected cat must wear a pair of gloves and a face mask.  If your cat is given the right kind of medicine, the wounds will dry up on it's own without needing any cream or bandaging. However do not assume that the spores are completely gone. Bring your cat to the vet again to confirm that your cat is free of Sporotrichosis. In worst cases, the cat will become aggressive and refuse to eat the medicine. 

The most important thing when treating your cat is commitment and patience. It will take time, but just keep in mind that this disease is curable and you can save your pet. Not only are you saving it, you are also preventing other people and other animals from getting this disease. Make sure children and older people do not come in contact with it because they are more vulnerable. In some cases, the spores can infect the lungs and cause respiratory pneumonia which can take even more time to cure. 

The last important step, once your cat is cured: clean everything. Clean the cage, clean it's eating bowl, clean it's litter box, clean everything. And not just regular cleaning, you've to disinfect it with disinfectant. I followed the vet's instructions which were: Mix 1 part clorox, 10 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray everything. Wait for 10-15 minutes, then proceed with cleaning. This is to make sure all the fungal spores and gone and you will not risk any more pets if you put them in the same cage.

My brother and I cleaned Syukor's cage and everything... :'(

If you love your pets, be aware. This is said to be a rare disease, but it happened to my cat. And now my cat's gone. If only I took him to the vet sooner, he could've still lived. I'm sorry if I was a bad owner, Syukor. :(

A Veterinary Hospital I Recommend:
The vet hospital I went to was actually Universiti Putra Malaysia's Veterinary Hospital. If you live in Selangor, you can probably go there. It is in Serdang (must I also tell you that it's in Malaysia?). The doctor was very friendly and informative. Most of the information in this post are from her, aside from the internet. I will link more sources below. The facility was very well kept. Usually the students there treated the pets, but in my case, an actual doctor personally called my name while others were called by numbers. Apparently the doctor reviewed the form I filled in which I wrote "fungal infection" in the disease section, so the doctor couldn't risk the veterinary students to see Syukor as they were responsible for their safety and don't want them getting Sporotrichosis. I knew it was fungal infection because I already went to a vet near my house, but I got annoyed with doctors who weren't friendly at all and went to UPM to get a better diagnosis. 

To read more about Sporotrichosis
  • http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2134&aid=358
  • http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/228723-overview
  • http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/sporotrichosis/
  • http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sporotrichosis/article_em.htm
Well, that concludes my post. I felt like Syukor's death would be in vain if I didn't write about this. I already let go of all my grief yesterday (by bawling my eyes out). I am keeping an eye on Bulan & Matahari (my other cats) to see if any spots suddenly appear on them; none so far. But if one does, I am going straight to the vet. I am not willing to lose another feline family member due to Sporotrichosis or any other kind of disease. If you notice something is wrong, seek medical help.

Lastly, cherish your pets. Sneak them some of your food under the table, let them ruin some tissue papers for fun, let them sleep in their favourite spot (even if they're in your way), play with them, give them plenty of attention. You'll miss it when they're gone. 


Alia said...

Stay strong! Syukor is in a better place now :')

Nazihah said...

Thank u :')