Encephalitozoonosis is an infection caused by the protozoal parasite, Encephalitozoon cuniculi. Protozoa are one-cell organisms that infect various cells or tissues of the body and behave as tiny parasites. Infection with E. cuniculi generally affects some combination of the kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs.
Encephalitozoonosis is transmitted by ingestion of the parasite, through contact with contaminated urine, or passed through the placenta from the mother to her unborn pups. It affects dogs more than cats. The disease is most serious in young puppies. There is no breed or sex predilection.
The housing of multiple dogs in close quarters or in kennels is the most common environment associated with this infection. The disease is not very common in the United States.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Encephalitozoonosis in Dogs
Treatment of Encephalitozoonosis in Dogs
Treatment usually consists of supportive therapy, such as intravenous fluids and electrolytes. No specific treatment has been designed to date that successfully kills this protozoal organism. In advanced stages of the infection, it is generally felt that treatment is often a futile effort, and euthanasia should be considered.
Home Care and Prevention
Disinfecting the environment is important to help prevent reinfection. Sanitation is of the utmost importance. Eliminate the housing of multiple dogs in close quarters, and disinfect the premise on a regular basis.
Disinfecting the environment is also important in preventing infections in people. Transmission of E. cuniculi from infected dogs to people is possible and is of particular concern when exposed people have compromised immune systems. Transmission to people occurs from contact with infected urine or tissues.