An 11-month-old black Labrador has survived thanks to the speedy diagnosis of a rare fungal infection inside her head.

Bridget’s owners first became worried when her behaviour suddenly changed and she became less responsive to her family, didn’t want to eat and was very lethargic.

She was rushed to her local vet, Louise Collins in Milton Keynes, who immediately referred her to neurology specialist Alex Forward at Davies Veterinary Specialists, Hertfordshire.

An examination and MRI scan revealed abnormalities in the right side of Bridget’s nasal cavity and frontal sinus, extending towards her brain. The infection was particularly severe due to its progression into the brain and Bridget’s rapid deterioration.

within 24 hours a diagnosis was attained, allowing antifungal medication to be started quickly enough to prevent any further deterioration. Bridget had Cryptococcosis, a rare fungal infection. This particular fungus, which is often inhaled through the nose, is present in soil and often spread by birds, especially pigeons. Cryptococcus in dogs is reported less in the UK compared with Australia and the USA, likely due to the different environments and the differing ecological niches of the fungus.

Bridget post surgery
Bridget post surgery

To treat fungal infections, fungal plaques and affected tissues are often removed to allow anti-fungal medications to penetrate. In Bridget’s case, the fungus created a “granuloma” which is a mass of inflammatory tissue and it was necessary to remove this tissue for effective treatment.

Smita Das, Soft Tissue Specialist at Davies performed Bridget’s surgery, and commented,  “Due to the sheer volume of the granuloma, and the fact that it had eroded the bone towards Bridget’s brain, it was deemed too dangerous to debride it with a less invasive approach such as with camera guidance (rhinoscopy).

“We removed the ‘roof’ of bone over the top of the nose and sinus on the right side in order to see all the structures and debride the abnormal tissue safely. Once the tissues were debrided, the piece of bone was replaced and the rest of the tissues brought together again. The surgery not only helped get Bridget on the road to recovery, but, happily, her lovely face did not seem too altered either!”

Over the next few days, Bridget started to improve and become more responsive. Within 11 days she was able to return home.

Bridget now
Bridget now

“Because of the seriousness of her infection, Bridget will remain on antifungal medications for a long time,” said Alex Forward. “There is a high risk the infection will return if they are stopped too soon. She will be closely monitored over the coming weeks and months to ensure she has the best possible chance of fighting the infection but so far we are very pleased with her response.”

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