Can Skin Fungus on Dogs Transfer?
Dr. Annie Morien,March 1,2013
Imagine this scenario: a client arrives at your clinic and reveals she has a fungal skin infection. What should you do? Don't panic. Instead,get more information and decide on a plan of action.
Fungal infections of the skin and nails are among the most common infections in humans,affecting 20 to 25 percent of the world’s population (Male,1990). As a massage therapist,you’ll likely encounter a client with a fungal infection over the course of your career. You can prepare yourself by understanding how fungi are spread to humans,the symptoms of fungal infections and how to reduce your risk before you encounter any infections.
Fungi are a group of organisms that are found worldwide, consisting of millions of various types or “species.” Some fungi are large enough to eat,like mushrooms for example,and serve as a food source. Others are too small to see,like yeast. Fungi contribute to the ecosystem by degrading organic material,providing nutrients for plants and animals. Other benefits include fermentation of beer and wine,leavening of bread and the production of antibiotics.
Fungi become pathogenic when their growth is uncontrolled and excessive,causing fungal infections. Some human and animal fungal infections are caused by overgrowth of the microscopic fungi “dermatophytes.These tiny fungi prefer to grow (colonize) on (cutaneous) tissue,such as skin,hair and nails. Other fungi types,such as yeast and nondermatophyte molds (not discussed in this article),prefer mucous membranes or deeper systemic systems,such as blood and organs.
Although not considered part of the normal flora, dermatophytes transfer to living beings from the soil, as well as infected animals,people and objects.These fungi cause common superfi cial fungal infections,such as athlete’s foot,ringworm and jock itch.
Many of the common superficial fungal infections caused by dermatophytes are labeled “tinea.” The infection is further identifi ed by the Latin term for its location on the body. For example,“tinea capitis” and “tinea corporis” refer to superficial fungal infections of the scalp and body,respectively.
Transmission of Fungal Infections
Dermatophytes can transfer to a new “host”—the pathogen’s new place of residence,which is typically human skin—after contact with infected people, animals or objects. The microscopic fungi are most often transferred to the new host by direct touch with infected skin and fur. In addition,people can also acquire pathogens from contact with infected combs, gym floors,clothing and towels.
After dermatophyte transfer,the pathogens immediately encounter the host’s immune defenses. Although the exact mechanisms of attachment (called adherence) and colonization are not clear,the microscopic fungi survive by degrading the protein substance (keratin) within skin,hair or nails and scavenging nutrients. Often,a healthy host’s immune system will destroy the dermatophytes before disease becomes apparent.
If the dermatophytes avoid destruction by the host’s immune factors,however,the pathogens typically remain in superfi cial skin,hair or nails. In rare instances, dermatophytes penetrate deeper tissue,but typically only when the host’s immune defenses are deficient.
Some people are asymptomatic carriers. For these people,dermatophytes inhabit the superfi cial tissue but don’t produce symptoms of fungal disease (Küçükgöz-Güleç,Gümral,Güzel ,Khatib,Karaka,Ilkit,2012). For everyone else,the development (and severity) of infection depends on the type of dermatophyte, environmental factors,the host’s heredity and the host’s level of immunity.
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