A new service from Atlas of Clinical Fungi: repository of veterinary cases

A new service from Atlas of Clinical Fungi: repository of veterinary cases

Fungal infections in animals are widely diverse (Seyedmousavi et al. 2018). Animal species may carry their own specific fungi. In these times of pandemics, it is essential to realize that many human microbial diseases have their origin in animals. Groups of animals carry specific fungi, which have a different chance to cause infection in humans. The chance that adaptations to new hosts take place, depends on the animal species with its specific fungus and on the host’s immune status, but also on the socioeconomic conditions of humans and the type of interaction with animals.
We can broadly distinguish three types of fungal infection in vertebrates:

1. Infections exclusively detected in non-mammal vertebrates. Reptile infections are relatively common, usually concerning members of the order Onygenales (Kandemir et al. 2022). Stchigel et al. (2014) even described a specific family within this order to classify a gamut of reptile pathogens, such as the genus Nannizziopsis which seems to have a predilection for the dry reptile skin. These species are hardly ever reported on humans. Human infections can be caused by members of the same order, but by members of entirely different families. Chytridiomycosis (Horner et al. 2015) is considered a major threat to amphibian biodiversity but there is no transmission to mammals.

2. Infections of non-mammal vertebrates that may be shared by humans. Marine bony fish are frequently infected by black fungi such as species of Ochroconis and Exophiala (Hatai & Kubota 1989; Munchan et al. 2009; Samerpitak et al. 2019), while species of Fonsecaea have repeatedly been reported from amphibians. In contrast, fungal infections in cartilaginous fishes (sharks and allies) are nearly always caused by hyaline species, mostly Fusarium (Desoubeaux et al. 2018). A human is unlikely to be infected by a fish. The black environmental fungi seem to have a generalist ability to survive in living tissue, whether fish or human, once inoculated by coincidence. De Hoog et al. (2011) noted a similarity between fish and human in that fur or feathers are lacking, but there is moisture, either by water or sweat. Mammal bodies other than humans are water-repellent by their fur, and birds by their feathers. The prevalent infections in birds concern Aspergillus in air sacs. The human counterpart is pulmonary aspergillosis (Hodiamont et al. 2009; Sitirou et al. 2015; Koehler et al. 2020).

3. Infections shared by mammals and humans. Mammals are close enough to humans to allow direct fungal transmission. This starts with hunts of wild armadillos in the Brazilian forest, till the pet cats, guinea pigs and rabbits infecting our children. Many of the latter infecting fungi are dermatophytes (i.e. the family Arthrodermataceae in Onygenales, Zhang et al. 2022). The spectrum of fungi concerned has  changed significantly with changing human conditions e.g. from rural to urban life styles (Zhan & Li 2017): while in the past, camels and sheep were frequent sources of infection, today prevalent infections have their origin in pet animals, including the new cute pygmy hedgehog (Gergovska et al. 2021). A new dermatophyte that causes serious problems in India and is spreading (Luchsinger et al. 2015; Singh et al. 2018; Nenoff et al. 2020) may also have an animal origin. The bat-associated fungus Histoplasma capsulatum infects bats and humans alike (Taylor et al. 2012; Rocha-Silva et al. 2014; Armstrong et al. 2018). In southern Brazil, outbreaks of human sporotrichosis are directly connected to zoonotic transmission of Sporothrix brasiliensis from domestic cats (Ortiz Sanchotene et al. 2015).

From a One-Health perspective, animal infections are obviously significant. Knowledge advances with accumulation of data. In order to stimulate maintenance of animal cases and making them publicly available, we started a repository of animal clinical cases on the Atlas website. The site is user-friendly and deposition is really easy; your case is immediately visible on the web. Subsequent publication of detailed cases is still possible and recommended. We hope you enjoy this new service.


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