BOSTON, May 18, 2015 – A beloved six-year-old cat named “Monkey” is on the rebound after battling a severe and extremely rare skin disorder that resulted in inflamed and painful lesions, the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center announced today.
According to Monkey’s owner, Andre Dumas of Boston, Monkey fell ill nearly three months ago. She had very suddenly developed red bumpy lesions on her skin and was visibly irritated. “She was constantly pulling out her hair and biting her skin,” said Dumas. “It was so difficult to watch—there were days I’d come home and find clumps of her hair all over the floor.”
Dumas sought help from a local veterinarian but when Monkey failed to improve, she suspected the condition was more serious.
“It was clear that something much more sinister was going on and I was determined to get to the bottom of it,” Dumas said. “Monkey is part of the family and I wanted to ensure we did everything possible to get her the best course of treatment.”
Dumas brought Monkey to see Dr. Klaus Loft of Angell’s Dermatology practice in February and he diagnosed the cat with Erythema Multiforme, a severe skin disease known to affect humans and dogs—but is very rarely diagnosed in cats. The disease is so rare, in fact, that Angell sees only about one feline case every five years.
Dr. Loft immediately started Monkey on a host of anti-inflammatory, immune-suppressive medications designed to combat the condition, and she is slowly improving.
Mysterious, Deadly Disease
According to Dr. Loft, the immune response to Erythema Multiforme causes mass die-off of skin cells. “Openings in the skin appear when the cells die, which left Monkey vulnerable to many other secondary infections—which we’re treating in parallel with her primary disease.”
“This particular skin disease can be much more serious in cats than in humans,” he said. “It’s still unknown whether the disease is sparked by an immune system response to an infection (bacterial, viral or even parasitic).”
But now, after more than two months of treatment, Monkey is on the road to recovery. Dumas is thrilled. “I’m so glad to see her skin improving and the lesions slowly becoming smaller,” she said. “She means the world to me and I’m so relieved to know she’s in such excellent hands.”
Monkey’s Road Ahead
Dr. Loft plans to gradually taper Monkey’s treatments over the next three to six months in the hopes that she will ultimately be off all of her medications.
Dr. Loft relayed that since veterinarians still do not know the exact cause of Erythema Multiforme it is impossible to fully safeguard against the disease. “The most important thing to do is just what Dumas did: call the veterinarian when something is amiss. By doing so she quickly got her cat in treatment before the disease got much worse.”
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