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Clinical signs, treatment, and prognostic factors for dogs with histoplasmosis

Allison G. WilsonDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Kate S. KuKanichDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

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Andrew S. HanzlicekDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Mark E. PaytonDepartment of Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the clinical manifestations of histoplasmosis in a large sample of dogs, compare outcomes achieved with fluconazole versus itraconazole, and identify variables available at the time of diagnosis with prognostic value.

DESIGN Retrospective case series with nested cohort study.

ANIMALS 79 dogs with confirmed histoplasmosis evaluated at 2 veterinary teaching hospitals from 1999 through 2015.

PROCEDURES Medical records were reviewed and data extracted regarding clinical signs at evaluation, physical examination findings, clinical laboratory values, other diagnostic test results, treatments, and outcomes. Data were compared between antifungal agents used (fluconazole or itraconazole) and between other variables.

RESULTS Various breeds were represented. Working and herding breeds had mostly disseminated histoplasmosis, and toy breeds had mostly the gastrointestinal form. The diagnosis was often achieved with noninvasive techniques, such as cytologic evaluation of rectal scrape samples (n = 24) or blood films (15). Clinical remission was achieved in 16 of 25 (64%) dogs receiving fluconazole and 17 of 24 (71%) dogs receiving itraconazole. No differences were identified between antifungal agents in survival, clinical remission, or disease relapse rates. Identified negative prognostic factors included Great Pyrenees breed, dyspnea, need for oxygen supplementation, icterus, palpable abdominal organomegaly, anemia, thrombocytopenia, hypercalcemia, high serum alkaline phosphatase activity, and hyperbilirubinemia, whereas diarrhea was a positive prognostic factor.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings suggested that histoplasmosis should be considered in a sick dog of any breed in an endemic area. Clinical signs may be nonspecific. Diagnosis may often be possible with noninvasive and inexpensive tests. Either fluconazole or itraconazole may be an effective treatment option.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the clinical manifestations of histoplasmosis in a large sample of dogs, compare outcomes achieved with fluconazole versus itraconazole, and identify variables available at the time of diagnosis with prognostic value.

DESIGN Retrospective case series with nested cohort study.

ANIMALS 79 dogs with confirmed histoplasmosis evaluated at 2 veterinary teaching hospitals from 1999 through 2015.

PROCEDURES Medical records were reviewed and data extracted regarding clinical signs at evaluation, physical examination findings, clinical laboratory values, other diagnostic test results, treatments, and outcomes. Data were compared between antifungal agents used (fluconazole or itraconazole) and between other variables.

RESULTS Various breeds were represented. Working and herding breeds had mostly disseminated histoplasmosis, and toy breeds had mostly the gastrointestinal form. The diagnosis was often achieved with noninvasive techniques, such as cytologic evaluation of rectal scrape samples (n = 24) or blood films (15). Clinical remission was achieved in 16 of 25 (64%) dogs receiving fluconazole and 17 of 24 (71%) dogs receiving itraconazole. No differences were identified between antifungal agents in survival, clinical remission, or disease relapse rates. Identified negative prognostic factors included Great Pyrenees breed, dyspnea, need for oxygen supplementation, icterus, palpable abdominal organomegaly, anemia, thrombocytopenia, hypercalcemia, high serum alkaline phosphatase activity, and hyperbilirubinemia, whereas diarrhea was a positive prognostic factor.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings suggested that histoplasmosis should be considered in a sick dog of any breed in an endemic area. Clinical signs may be nonspecific. Diagnosis may often be possible with noninvasive and inexpensive tests. Either fluconazole or itraconazole may be an effective treatment option.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. KuKanich (kstenske@ksu.edu).