Feline Fungus – New Species Identified

(Phys.org) —A new species of fungus that causes life-threatening infections in humans and cats has been discovered by a University of Sydney researcher.

afelinefungu“This all originated from spotting an unusual fungal infection in three cats I was seeing at the University’s cat treatment centre in 2006,” said Dr Vanessa Barrs, from the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, whose findings have just been published in PLOS One.

“These cats presented with a tumour-like growth in one of their eye sockets, that had spread there from the nasal cavity. The fungal spores are inhaled and in susceptible cats they establish a life-threatening infection that is very difficult to treat.”

Six years of investigation followed, including working with some of the world’s leading fungal experts at the CBS-KNAW fungal biodiversity centre in The Netherlands.

“Finally I was able to confirm this as a completely new species, Aspergillus felis, which can cause virulent disease in humans and cats by infecting their respiratory tract. We were able to demonstrate that this was a new species of fungus on a molecular and reproductive level and in terms of its form.

“Similar to the closely related fungus Aspergillus fumigates, this new species of fungus can reproduce both asexually and sexually – and we discovered both phases of the fungus.”

Since the first sighting of the new species, more than 20 sick domestic cats from around Australia and one cat from the United Kingdom have been diagnosed with the fungus.

The fungus appears to infect otherwise healthy cats but in the two humans identified it attacked an already highly compromised immune system.

The disease is not passed between humans and cats but its study in cats will not only help their treatment but provide a good model for the study of the disease in people. There is only a 15 percent survival rate of cats with the disease and it has so far proved fatal in humans. To date only one case has been identified in a dog.

“We are right at the start of recognising the diseases caused by this fungus in animals and humans. The number of cases may be increasing in frequency or it may just be we are getting better at recognising them,” Dr Barrs said.

“Fungi like Aspergillus felis can be easily misidentified as the closely related fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, which is a well-studied cause of disease in humans. However, A. felis is intrinsically more resistant to antifungal drugs than A. fumigatus and this has important implications for therapy and prognosis.”

The next step for Dr Barrs and her team is studying fungi in culture collections throughout Australia to determine the prevalence of A. felis infections in people with previously diagnosed aspergillosis. They will collaborate with researchers at the Westmead Millenium Institute for Medical Research.

Rosegreen 4 cats.co.uk owner Mark Welsh MCMI says ” Its re assuring to see that feline medicine is at the forefront of research around the world.

This is a reminder why standards of disinfection and barrier nursing need to be a priority for all pet boarding providers, whether  a veterinary surgery, boarding establishment or home boarder. When caring for other peoples pets you can never be too careful and should always be using quality licensed veterinary disinfectants in premises.”

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Edinburgh Bupa Run – Mark Welsh – Support Meningitis Now – Jan 2014

Meningitious Now

Many of you will already know that I was admitted to Hospital by Ambulance in July 2011 unconscious with Suspected Meningitis .

I don’t remember any of the first 24 hrs but I know from the A&E team in the resuscitation room that they put me on life support and that there several people involved in trying to keep me alive and stabilise me.

I want to try and raise some money and support those who have suffered with Meningitis and their families  in some way if possible.  No individual or family should have to face such trauma and anguish alone watching helplessly a loved one with this illness.

When I left hospital 3 weeks later the first thing I did was head to my youngest child’s childminder’s house, as I left the car I was determined he would not see me walking with sticks. I fell flat on my face…  I picked myself up and realised things were not going to be the same for a while…. .2 yrs on and although my children are closer with me than ever before, unfortunately my marriage did not survive.    I was suffering from severe fatigue and unable to work the long hours, look after the kids, large house and gardens as I had always done.

My wife met up through Facebook with an ex boyfriend,  I was struggling to meet her demands on our relationship and the endless criticism lowered my self esteem further. When she told me she couldn’t spend her life looking after someone unwell, I felt I was to blame for being tired all the time.    Within a week and just before our 20th wedding anniversary my wife walked in and announced it was over. It would take a year before I would realise she had someone else that she texted as much as 70 times every day and phoned minutes before we broke up. ……..I lost a lot during my illness and recovery I had my fair share of frustration, pain, hurt and heartache and although I have greatly recovered I will always suffer from fatigue. I would never want someone to go through what I did. I was lucky I had some support from my two kids, family and friends. 

  …… I’m now running 5 k twice a week……. its hard going but I’m determined to raise some money for charity and raise awareness of this terrible illness. I hope that I can in some small way help families understand that things may never be the same, but they can be good and fighting to survive and recover is worth it. They can get through this with support, understanding and counselling. I’m focused on getting fit and healthier again supporting my two kids as they grow up, trying to achieve something positive out of my experience and not let my illness define me or my future. Its taken enough already.  

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity

Please visit my Just Giving page.

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Cat insurance

Quoted from http://www.fabcats.org/:

To help cat owners on what to consider when choosing a pet insurance policy, FAB has produced a general guide to cat insurance, which outlines what to look for in an insurance policy to make an informed decision on which product to choose.

Fabcats is an enthusiastic supporter of veterinary insurance for cats because it ensures that cats can receive the best treatment without owners having to worry about unexpected costs. That is why we have teamed up with Agria, a leading pet insurer, to provide fabcats Cat Insurance.

fabcats Cat Insurance includes lifetime insurance, which ensures that the pool of money available to treat progressive illnesses is topped up every year – vital for cats with chronic health issues. To find out more, go to www.fabcatsinsurance.co.uk.