Chromomycosis is a chronic, cutaneous and subcutaneous fungal infection.3 This disease is caused by pigmented fungi, which belong to the ascomycete order Chaetothyriales.1 These opportunistic fungi are common in soil and rotting plant material, with a worldwide distribution.1,3 Occasional infection involving the central nervous system (CNS) has been reported in man.2,3 Brain abscesses due to fungal infections in domestic animals are deficient in the literature.4 Reports of fungal infections of the CNS in zoo animals are also lacking. This report describes a cerebral chromomycosis infection in a juvenile snow leopard at the Tulsa Zoo.
A 22-week-old hand-reared snow leopard cub suffered an acute illness characterized by lethargy, bilaterally exposed nictitans membranes, and over 3 days it progressed to a mild ataxia. The snow leopard cub was anesthetized with medetomidine (Domitor®, Pfizer Animal Health; 0.048 mg/kg) and ketamine (Ketaset®, Fort Dodge Animal Health; 3.7 mg/kg) by intramuscular injection for diagnostic investigation. The animal was intubated and maintained on isoflurane (IsoFlo®, Abbott Laboratories). Atipamezole (Antisedan®, Pfizer Animal Health; 0.2 mg/kg) was administered intramuscularly to reverse the cardio-respiratory effects of medetomidine. Physical examination revealed mild pyrexia and flea dirt. Fundic examination was negative for retinal lesions, and all other clinical findings were normal. A tapeworm proglottid was seen in the cub’s feces; fecal flotation was negative for other gastrointestinal parasites. Blood was obtained for hematology, biochemistry profile and serologic analyses. The animal never recovered from anesthesia and died 12 hours post anesthetic induction.
Hematology revealed a mature neutrophilic, monocytic leukocytosis (20,900/µl) with a mild anemia (hematocrit=29.6%). The biochemistry profile was normal, and serologic tests for feline leukemia virus antigen, feline immunodeficiency and infectious peritonitis virus antibodies, and Toxoplasma gondii antibodies were negative. The gross necropsy examination was unremarkable except for partial cerebellar herniation through the foramen magnum with a large, necrotic area in the right cerebral hemisphere that surrounded a dark pigmented lesion. Histopathologic diagnoses of the brain lesion were chromomycosis with acute suppurative meningitis and acute vascular degeneration. At the time of this report, the sibling cub remained in good health and had no clinical signs of a similar illness.
1. De Hoog, G.S., F. Queiroz-Telles, G. Haase, G. Femandez-Zeppenfeldt, D. Attili Angelis, A.H.G. Gerrits Van Den Ende, T. Matos, H. Peltroche-llacsahuanga, A.A. Pizzirani-Kleiner, J. Rainer, N. Richard-Yegres, V. Vicente, and F. Yegres. 2000. Black fungi: clinical and pathogenic approaches. Med. Mycolo. 38(1): 243–250.
2. Jang, S.S., E.L. Biberstein, M.G. Rinaldi, A.M. Henness, G.A. Boorman, and R.F. Taylor. 1997. Feline brain abscesses due to Cladosporium trichoides. Sabouraudia. 5: 115–123.
3. Wagner, K.F. 2000. Agents of chromomycosis. In: G.L. Mandell, J.E. Bennett, R. Dolin, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Harcourt Health Sciences. 2699–2702.
4. Welsh, R.D. and R.W. Ely. 1999. Scopulariopsis chartarum systemic mycosis in a dog. J. Clin. Microbiol. June: 2102–2103.