Monday, 2 September 2013

A new species - Aspergillus felis found in cats and humans, is closely related to Aspergillus fumigatus.

A. felis colonies on ME agar.
(Barrs VR et al )
A new species of aspergillus - A felis has been identified in humans and cats in Australia. Dr Vanessa Barrs lead author in the recent publication (View) from the University of Sydney said: “this all originated from spotting an unusual fungal infection in three cats I was seeing at the University’s cat treatment centre in 2006.”
“These cats presented with a tumor-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.
The new species can reproduce both asexually and sexually - both forms were identified.
Molecular ananlysis has revealed that this new species of aspergillus is closely related to Aspergillus fumigatus, which is a well-studied cause of disease in humans. It was also identified in 2 human patients with immunocompromised immune problems. Since the study - 20 otherwise healthy cats and one dog have been identified with the new strain. It can't be transmitted from  domestic animals to humans, but the cats may provide a useful model to study effective treatments.
However, the study has shown that Aspergillus felis is intrinsically more resistant to antifungal drugs than Aspergillus fumigatus and this has important implications for therapy and prognosis.

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