Isolation of Epidermophyton floccosum from a Persian squirrel (Sciurus anomalus)
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- Hosseininejad, M., Ebrahimi, A. & Hosseini, F. Comp Clin Pathol (2010) 19: 215. doi:10.1007/s00580-009-0829-4
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The Persian squirrel (Sciurus anomalus) is a small-sized rodent which lives mainly in oak forests in Iran and is also kept as a pet animal. Dermatophytes are of potential zoonotic importance in squirrels. The present study describes isolation of Epidermophyton floccosum, an important dermatophyte from a clinically infected Persian squirrel and represents the first report of its isolation.
KeywordsEpidermophyton floccosumPersian squirrelSciurus anomalus
The Persian squirrel (Sciurus anomalus) is a small rodent which lives in oak forests in the North West and west provinces of Iran. During recent years, these animals have increasingly been kept as pets. Their potential zoonotic importance among which mycotic infections are of more importance is becoming evident. Dermatophytes have been isolated from exotic pets including rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, ferrets, and hedgehogs (Beynon et al. 1991). There is no report of the isolation of Epidermophyton floccosum from squirrels and this is the first report in this field. Considering the potential zoonotic importance of this fungus in humans, this isolation emphasizes the potential zoonotic risk of squirrels as pets.
A 1-year-old, male Persian squirrel was referred to the veterinary clinic of Shahrekord University, Iran. The main problem was the presence of a focal circular alopecia on the right flank and a lesion which had been present for 2 weeks.
Materials and methods
Specimens from fur and skin scraping were collected from the margin of the lesion and sent to the mycology laboratory, where they were cultured on plates containing Sabouraud dextrose agar containing chloramphenicol and cycloheximide. Plates were incubated at 25–30°C and regularly examined for the growth of suspected dermatophyte colonies for 30 days. All colonies were submitted for slide cultures. The fungi were identified by their macroscopic and microscopic morphological characteristics.
Results and discussion
Based on macroscopic and microscopic cultural characteristic, E. floccosum was the only isolated fungus. Epidermophyton is a filamentous fungus and one of the three fungal genera classified as dermatophytes and is distributed worldwide. Man is the primary host of E. floccosum. The genus Epidermophyton contains two species; E. floccosum and Epidermophyton stockdaleae. E. stockdaleae is known as non-pathogenic, leaving E. floccosum as the only species capable of causing infection in humans (Larone 1995).
There are a few reports of the isolation of dermatophytes from squirrels. These include isolation of Microsporum gypseum, Microsporum cookei, and Tricophyton mentagrophytes (Caffara and Scagliarini 1999; Khosravi and Mahmoudi 2003; Rostami et al. 2006). A study was carried out in Iran to investigate fungal flora of Persian squirrels and M. canis, M. gypseum, M. persicolor, and T. mentagrophytes were isolated. Clinical signs of dermatophytosis were seen in squirrels infected with M. gypseum and T. mentagrophytes (Rostami et al. 2006).
In a study detecting for the prevalence of dermatophytes in a human population in south west Iran, E. floccosum was the second most prevalent isolated dermatophyte (Mahmoudabadi 2005).
Based on this case study, E. floccosum can cause clinical ring worm disease in squirrels and requires further investigation. The isolation of this dermatophyte should result in awareness of its potential zoonotic consequences in pet squirrel owners and those who are in close contact with them.