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Histoplasmosis in Cats

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Histoplasmosis is a non-contagious fungal infection of dogs, cats, other domestic and non-domestic animals, and humans. It is caused by inhalation of a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum carried on dust with a primary infection in the lung.

The factors that predispose cats to the disease aren't clearly defined. Immaturity of the immune system of young cats and exposure to large amounts of the organism may be significant factors.

The impact of the disease on a particular cat is significant; treatment is expensive and prolonged, and the prognosis is poor.

Watch to Watch For

  • Acute weight loss/emaciation
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Anemia
  • Labored breathing
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lameness
  • Skin disease
  • Diarrhea (the most common sign in dogs)
  • Eye disease


    A definitive diagnosis of histoplasmosis requires detecting Histoplasma organisms in the tissues of cats and dogs showing clinical signs compatible with the disease. Several other tests are also recommended to gather information that supports a diagnosis of histoplasmosis.

  • Complete blood count
  • Chemistry panel and urinalysis
  • Radiographs
  • Complete ophthalmic exam
  • Rectal scrapings (dogs)
  • Bone marrow examination
  • Cytology of fine-needle aspirates
  • Biopsy
  • Serologic tests
  • Culture


  • Antifungal drugs
  • Supportive care

    Home Care and Prevention

    Provide good nutrition and administer all medications as prescribed.

    No specific preventive measures exist regarding histoplasmosis.

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