Diagnosis and Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Large Flying Foxes (Pteropus vampyrus) and Variable Flying Foxes (Pteropus hypomelanus) with Intradermal Skin Testing and Allergy-Specific Immunotherapy: A Case Series
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Jane Christman1; DVM; Dunbar Gram2, DVM, DACVD; Jessica Scrivener3; Sarah Crevasse1; James F.X. Wellehan1, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM, DACVM; Amy Alexander1, DVM, DACZM
1Department of Comparative, Diagnostic and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 2Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3Lubee Bat Conservancy, Gainesville, FL, USA


Seasonal atopic dermatitis is an uncommon, yet described condition affecting large flying foxes.1 This case series describes the management of atopic dermatitis in a captive population of flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus and Pteropus hypomelanus) housed at Lubee Bat Conservancy in Gainesville, FL, USA, using intradermal skin testing and allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). ASIT has been used in veterinary dermatology for decades for treatment of atopic dermatitis;2 however, its use is uncommon in zoological medicine. Clinical signs varied between bats, but included restlessness, sneezing, conjunctivitis, and moist ulcerations of non-haired skin, often localized to the carpal regions and toes. Intradermal skin testing was performed under general anesthesia on six bats affected with dermatitis. Allergen-specific immunotherapy was formulated specific to each bat and administered subcutaneously or sublingually for a variable duration ranging from 8 mo to over 3 yr. Allergens noted as positive on skin test varied between individuals; however, the majority were allergic to native plant species in the region, including bayberry (Myrica sp.), red cedar (Juniperus virginianus) and sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua). No adverse reactions to immunotherapy were recognized in any bat. Reformulation was performed on 3/6 bats due to reoccurrence of clinical signs. Full regression of lesions was noted in 1/6 cases, and all cases showed improvement of clinical signs, degree of skin ulceration, and perceived comfort level.


The authors thank the keeper and director staff of Lubee Bat Conservancy for their exceptional care in the wellbeing of their animals, as well as the veterinary technicians of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Literature Cited

1.  Goodnight AL. Diagnosis and palliative management of atopic dermatitis in a Malayan flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2015;46(2):386–392.

2.  Jutel M, Van de Veen W, Agache I, Azkur KA, Akdis M, Akdis CA. Mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy and novel ways for vaccine development. Allergol Int. 2013;62:425–433.


Speaker Information
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Jane Christman
Department of Comparative, Diagnostic and Population Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

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