Feline Mycotoxins

Goals

To obtain testing and treatment options for the following feline mycotoxins: Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria, Stachybotrys, Aureobasidium, Chaetomium, Epicoccum, and Ulocladium, with a focus on blood testing if available.

Early Findings

Background Information

  • The term “mycotoxicosis” is used to denote poisoning by food products contaminated by fungi (i.e., moldy bread, cheese, English walnuts, or even a backyard compost). As well as being toxic to humans, fungi release various toxins, also called mycotoxins, that are toxic to animals. However, this is found to be rare in cats as compared to dogs.

Fungal Toxicosis

  • Fungal toxicosis is a disease caused by toxins that are created by fungi and molds. The condition occurs when fungus or spores enter the body, usually through inhalation or ingestion, and create mycotoxins, which damage internal systems. The condition is also called mycotoxicosis.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms of fungal toxicosis can vary depending on the type of fungus and the manner in which it entered the cat’s system. In cases where the toxin is ingested, early symptoms are generally gastrointestinal in nature. If the toxin is inhaled, respiratory symptoms are more common. In most cases, continued exposure or lack of treatment results in a worsening of symptoms and can lead to neurological issues and even death.
  • Several types of fungus can cause toxicosis in cats, including molds and mushrooms. Some varieties known to cause issues for cats and other companion animals include: Aspergillus mold Fusarium fungi Penicillium fungi Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric mushroom Amanita pantherina or Panther Cap mushroom
  • Testing: Imaging technologies like CT scans or MRIs may be used to look for changes associated with fungal infection. Veterinary staff may also analyze blood, tissue, urine, feces, and mucus for signs of fungi or antibodies commonly produced to fight fungal infections. If fungal toxicosis is suspected, testing will be conducted to identify the type of fungus and determine the extent of the damage to your pet’s bodily systems. Special attention will be paid to the liver, including diagnostic imaging and potentially biopsy, as the liver is commonly affected by mycotoxins.
  • Treatments include oral antifungals, gastric lavage suction, antifungal sinus infusions, and IV fluids.

Merck Vetrinary Manual- Treatment

  • Mycotoxicoses are generally not successfully treated with medical therapy after diagnosis. A preventive approach with recognition of risk factors and avoiding or reducing exposure is preferred.
  • There are no specific antidotes for mycotoxins.

PetMD- Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Testing: The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination, as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC).
  • Veterinary treatment for mold inhalation or ingestion is generally focused on supportive care, including the management of respiratory symptoms, vomiting, and the administering of IV fluids for dehydration from gastric distress. Mold allergies can be treated with medications that lessen the immune system’s response.
  • The prognosis for a pet afflicted by mold is generally good, and provided the source of the mold is properly removed to prevent continued problems, your pet should fully recover. As is the case with any sort of health problem, getting your animal to the vet as soon as possible is key.

Aspergillosis in Cats

  • There are two types of Aspergillus infections. The first is the nasal form, where the infection is localized in the nasal passages and front sinuses. It is believed that this develops from direct nasal contact with the fungus. The second type of Aspergillus infection is disseminated, meaning it is more widespread in the body, not only in the nasal area.
  • Diagnostic procedures vary depending on whether the infection is based in the nasal passages or is disseminated through the body. For suspected nasal aspergillosis, analysis of nasal swabs, fungal cultures of nasal discharge, and a rhinoscopy -- inserting a small fiber-optic scope into the nose in order to examine the inside of the nose and its mucus linings -- can be expected. The symptoms for disseminated aspergillosis are mostly nonspecific and therefore more difficult to diagnose. Tests may include a urine analysis and X-rays to examine the spine.
  • There have been successful treatments through the administration of an antifungal drug directly into the nose or further in the nasal passage. Antifungal medications are used to treat fungal infections, not illnesses caused by toxins produced by fungi.

Testing for Mycotoxins in Humans

  • Testing for mycotoxins in humans is a simple and usually noninvasive procedure. In most cases, only a urine sample is required. Testing can also be done on nasal secretions, sputum or tissue biopsy collected by a physician.
  • Mulptiple sites mentioned urine testing as the most complete and easiest method.

Results of Iniital Research

  • The initial strategy was to uncover specific tests and treatments for felines. This was not a successful path. We were able to briefly touch on testing in humans during this block of research.
  • This block of research did not uncover the exact testing that a feline would undergo. Blood panels and cultures are common tests performed.
  • Treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and using antifungals.
  • The widely used method for humans is to test the urine. Blood testing seems to be performed infrequently.
  • Wonder does not have access to paid resources, therefore will have the same limitations when trying to access paid materials.

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