Protothecosis is a disease found in
humans caused by a type of mutant
green algae that lacks
chlorophyll. The two most common species are
Prototheca wickerhami and
Prototheca is found worldwide in
Infection is rare despite high exposure, and can be related to a
immune system. In dogs, females and
are most commonly affected.
The two main forms of protothecosis are
disseminated. Cats are exclusively infected with the cutaneous, or skin, form.
Symptoms include soft lumps on the skin of the ears, legs, feet, nose, and head.
Infection usually occurs through a wound in the skin. The disseminated form is
seen in dogs and humans. The algae enters the body through the mouth or nose and
causes infection in the intestines. From there it can spread to the eye, brain,
and kidneys. Symptoms can include
weight loss, weakness, inflammation of the eye (uveitis),
retinal detachment, deafness, and
Diagnosis is through
culture or finding the organism in a
the treatment of choice for the cutaneous form. Treatment of the disseminated
form is very difficult, although use of
antifungal medication has been successful in a few cases.
for cutaneous protothecosis is guarded and depends on the surgical options.
Prognosis for the disseminated form is grave.
- Ettinger, Stephen J.;Feldman, Edward C.(1995).Textbook of Veterinary
Internal Medicine(4th ed.). W.B. Saunders Company.
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