Valley Fever in Cats: Crucial Things You Need to Know

We are all aware of the varied manifestations of valley fever in canines. We routinely add a valley fever titer to each patient, typically uncomplicated treatment. However, valley fever therapy can be tricky, like with everything involving cats. The clinical manifestations may range from weight loss and mass lesions to many lymph nodes that are swollen. Other possible symptoms include breathing trouble, abdominal distension, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cats are regarded as more resistant to infection than dogs, yet, they are frequently more resistant to treatment.


The soil-dwelling fungus Coccidioides immitis requires a particular set of circumstances for survival and reproduction. It flourishes in regions with sandy, alkaline soils, hot temperatures, low precipitation, and low altitude. These circumstances are prevalent in numerous global regions. This fungus is primarily found in the Sonoran living zone of North America, which includes the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. Coccidioidomycosis is most widespread in southern California, Arizona, and southwestern Texas, in the United States.


Inhaling soil fungus causes infection in animals and humans. The inhalation of C. immitis spores causes initial respiratory illness. The sickness subsequently spreads to other body parts, typically affecting the eyes and skin. Less frequently, infections might affect the bone or nerve system. 


Cats are more resistant to this virus than dogs. Hence infections tend to be less severe in cats. Valley fever in cats begins within 1 to 3 weeks after inhaling the fungus; however, the fungus can remain latent for three or more years before showing symptoms of infection. Cats with weakened immune systems are more likely to get the disease’s severe version.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Draining skin lesions are the most prevalent symptom of coccidioidomycosis in cats. In contrast to the dog, draining skin lesions are not always accompanied by underlying bone involvement. Fever, weight loss, and appetite loss are frequent symptoms in cats. The respiratory symptoms often seen in dogs are rare in cats.


Diagnosis is based on history, symptoms, x-rays of the lungs, organism identification, and blood testing. Chest x-rays by an animal radiologist frequently reveal a distinct pattern in the lungs. A small sample can be taken and looked at under a microscope to find the fungus if a skin lesion is draining.


If a biopsy or a sample from a draining lesion cannot be used to make a diagnosis, blood testing to find circulating antibodies to Coccidioides is frequently performed as a presumptive test. In most circumstances, baseline blood testing of a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry to evaluate red and white blood cells and organ function is beneficial.


Coccidioidomycosis is primarily treated with an oral antifungal drug taken at home. During this period, symptoms of illness progression or improvement and adverse drug reactions should be recorded. Vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, respiratory abnormalities, and weight loss should be reported immediately to a veterinarian and if you still don’t have one, visit this link.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Avoiding places known to have Coccidioides in the soil is the primary component of the prevention strategy. To lessen the likelihood that your pet may become infected with this illness, you should exercise extra caution around animals who have immunosuppressive disorders or who are already on immunosuppressive drugs.


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