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PROTOTHECOSIS is an opportunistic disease caused by the unicellular achlorophyllic algae Prototheca, which is found in a wide variety of sources such as tree sap, lakes, marine waters, faeces or soil (Huerre and others 1993). Protothecosis is a rare infection in human beings that can cause olecranon bursitis, cutaneous or systemic signs (Lass-Florl and Mayr 2007). The most commonly affected domestic animals are cattle, which develop mastitis (Cheville and others 1984); dogs, which can show cutaneous and disseminated forms (Sudman and others 1973, Tyler and others 1980, Merideth and others 1982, Migaki and others 1982, Perez and others 1997, Strunck and others 2004, Pressler and others 2005, Stenner and others 2007, Salvadori and others 2008); cats, which mainly develop a cutaneous form (Dillberger and others 1988); and, rarely, goats (Macedo and others 2008).
In dogs, the most common presentation is the disseminated form, which causes gastrointestinal, ophthalmic, urinary and neurological signs. In most cases, haemorrhagic diarrhoea due to colitis is the first clinical sign, suggesting a gastroenteric route of infection (Stenner and others 2007), while haematogenous-lymphatic dissemination occurs later during the course of the disease. To the authors' knowledge, canine protothecosis affecting the brain without involvement of other organs has not been previously described.
A two-year-old, male boxer was presented to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, with a seven-day history of anorexia, frequent coughing, mild depression and generalised pain that did not respond to NSAID treatment. Physical examination showed a body temperature of 38°C, and swelling of the right submandibular lymph node. Neurological examination showed diffuse paraspinal hyperaesthesia, more severe in the cervical region, and mild mental depression, which was attributed to severe pain due to the meningitis. The animal demonstrated pain both, spontaneously …