Coccidioidomycosis is a disease which can develop in cats if they are exposed to the fungus Coccidioides immitis. The disease is much more prevalent in dogs, but in some rare cases cats have become ill from this fungus. Most cases of coccidioidomycosis occur in the southwestern USA and Mexico. Cats are fortunately highly resistant to coccidioidomycosis infection, and their reactions to the fungus are not nearly as severe as coccidioidomycosis cases in dogs.
Symptoms of Valley Fever
In cats, the Coccidioides immitis fungus attacks the skin. As a result, cats experience draining lesions on their skin throughout their entire body. In some cases abscesses will appear instead of lesions. In addition to draining lesions or abscesses, many cats also experience a loss of appetite and, as a consequence, weight loss. In very rare cases, the fungus will begin to affect the cat’s respiratory system and the cat may develop a chronic cough. If the fungus does spread to the respiratory system, it can then spread to other tissues in the body and cause lameness, eye symptoms, and neurological symptoms.
While some cats are able to ‘carry’ the fungus without any symptoms, it is believed that cats with lowered immune function are at a higher risk for developing coccidioidomycosis. Coccidioidomycosis symptoms in cats often progress slowly over a long period of time. Medical treatments for the condition are available, but if they are not given in a timely manner the disease can be fatal. If you live in a region where pets are at risk for developing coccidioidomycosis and your cat is displaying any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.