Immune Mediated Skin Diseases in Zoo Animals: Thinking Outside the Diagnostic Box
Skin diseases, in particular those inducing hair loss, are particularly frequent in the zoo setting, and of concern for the health and well-being of the animal, all the while also inducing a number of interrogations from the public. Case reports are numerous in the literature and most are single cases of parasitic or fungal infections. Diagnosis of skin diseases in the zoo setting is more complex than in the domestic species, as a full dermatological workup including biopsy sampling often requires anesthesia of the individual. More complex cases have arisen and have led to frustration of clinicians in failing to identify a cause of the disease often underlying secondary fungal or bacterial diseases.
Through approximately 10 years of zoo consultation via the combined experience of a dermatopathologist, zoo clinician and anatomic-pathologist, we illustrate the increased frequency of diagnosis of immune-mediated and auto-immune skin diseases in zoo species through the rapid presentation of cases reports: a case of pseudopelade in an African lion (Panthera leo); cases of pemphigus foliaceus in a tapir (Tapirus sp.) and in a grey wolf (Canis lupus); cases of cutaneous lupus in a mongoz lemur (Eulemur mongoz) and a red panda (Ailurus fulgens); and a case of lichen planus in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). For each, the diagnostic process, treatment attempts and outcomes are rapidly discussed. Take home message is to include immune-mediated and auto-immune diseases in the differential diagnosis of skin diseases of zoo animals as illustrated in this talk.