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Valley Fever
Rohvannyn posted:
I wanted to know about the symptoms of Valley Fever in cats. It's a disease specific to certain parts of Mexico and the Southwestern US, also known as coccidioidomycosis. I am wondering because my best friend, a black American Shorthair cat, died about a year and a half ago when I first moved to Arizona.

We'd all been exposed to a heck of a dust storm. He'd been under stress during the move as well, and was just starting to get back to normal when he got sick. We didn't have a place to live yet and were stuck in a tent, hence the exposure. Needless to say we couldn't afford emergency services. He wasn't exposed to poison or injury but got thinner and thinner, with respiratory symptoms and low appetite. The end of this sad tale was his death, because we were literally spending our last dollar on his food and didn't even have gas to get to the vet, should one have been found. We were waiting for a job to begin.

So this is why I was wondering about symptoms of Valley Fever. Could it have been this, or something else? The other cat, by the way, is happy and healthy and we are in a position now to care for her properly. In fact, we took in another one from the animal shelter a few months ago and he's fat and sassy too.
srstephanie responded:
Hi Rohvannyn,

My condolences on the loss of your cat. I admit that I know nothing of coccidioidomycosis. The first place I usually go for good info is the Veterinary Partners website. It is run by the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). While VIN is restricted to vets, they created Veterinary Partners to give info for pet owners.

Here is a link to the Veterinary Partners page on coccidioidomycosis:

According to that page, cats have slightly different symptoms than dogs ... and the respiratory phase (e.g. coughing) is rare in cats. But "rare" doesn't mean "never", so without being able to diagnostic tests, you will probably never know.

The Vet Partners info says that about 60% of animals and people that are exposed to coccidioidomycosis do not get sick, and only the presence of antibodies indicates they were exposed. So, that would make sense that you and your other cat remained healthy.

There are many things that can cause weight loss, lack of appetite and respiratory symptoms ... so it is probably impossible to know if your cat had coccidioidomycosis. I'll be interested in what the vets here say. I live in Canada and this is all new to me.

Stephanie in Montreal
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
I am very sorry to hear about your cats sad end and know that you miss him very much.

Coccidioidomycosis is a fungal disease that is in the soil in certain areas of the country. Where the organism settles in a cat's body will determine what signs it shows. The most common signs are skin disease (draining lesions, abscesses, and skin masses), fever, not wanting to eat, and weight loss. they can also show signs of difficulty breathing, lameness, neurologic or eye abnormalities.

In areas where this fungus lives, veterinarians always keep in in the back of their minds as a possible cause of an ADR (ain't doing right) in animals (physicians do in people in that area too). fortunately the infection as a problem isn't that common, but it can be really bad for some that get it.

Again, I am sorry to hear about your cat, but glad to hear that you are going to provide a loving home for another one now.
Rohvannyn replied to srstephanie's response:
Stephanie, I notice with delight that your kitty looks very much like Mouse, my little rescue! In fact, when I saw the picture I thought "did I somehow manage to upload her as my profile ID as I'd wanted to?" Thank you for your response. As a matter of fact, I also got quite ill after the dust storm, and so did my partner, though less so because she's had it before.
Rohvannyn replied to Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS's response:
Yes, Evgeny was adopted just before Christmas. He's a 15 pound gray and tan tabby cat, neutered, and is somewhere between 4 and 6 years of age. There have been some adjustment issues, such as him being really sweet at first and then later deciding it's okay to hiss any time we set limits, but ultimately he's a good cat and we're glad to have him. Now if only we can stop him from opening every cabinet in the house to look for sugar to eat! Time to get some child safe latches.
Annie_WebMD_Staff replied to Rohvannyn's response:
Hi Rohvannyn,

I also have to get some child proof locks again for my under the sink kitchen cabinet doors because my 13 pound big boy Charlie has figured out how to open those doors. Only my first cat was clever enough to do that. He's figured out how to do it too! He can tear a bag of garbage open and make a mess and I don't want to clean that up!

- Annie
There's nothing better than a warm fuzzy hug from your pet!


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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