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Dermatophilosis in Dogs

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine ; William W. Hawkins, BS, DVM ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bernard Mignon, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, University of Liège ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD

This disease is seen worldwide but is more common in the tropics. It is known by a number of names, including “strawberry footrot.” Among companion animals, it is seen most frequently in horses. Dogs and cats rarely have this disease. The few reported human cases have usually been associated with handling diseased animals.

The disease is caused by Dermatophilus congolensis bacteria. It is possible that the bacteria can live in the skin causing no signs in the animal until conditions encourage active infection. Epidemics of dermatophilosis often occur during rainy seasons. In most short-term infections, the invasion of the skin stops in 2 to 3 weeks and the animal heals spontaneously. In longterm infections, the bacteria periodically spread from infected hair follicles and scabs to uninfected patches of skin. Increased wetness enhances the growth of the infective bacteria, leading to release of infective spores.

Uncomplicated infections usually heal without scar formation. Animals with severe generalized infections often lose condition; movement and the ability to eat may be reduced, especially if the feet, lips, and mouth are involved.

Dermatophilosis is diagnosed using laboratory tests on samples taken from the skin. Because dermatophilosis usually heals rapidly and without complications, treatment is often not required. The disease is controlled by isolating infected animals and controlling skin parasites that injure the skin and increase susceptibility to the bacteria.