Atypical Dermatophytosis in 12 North American Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) from the Northeastern United States 2010-2017.

Academic Article


  • Twelve wild North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) out of a total of 44 of this species examined in an 8-year period were diagnosed with dermatopathies while being cared for at two wildlife rehabilitation clinics. Biopsy and necropsy were performed on seven and five animals, respectively. Atypical dermatophytosis was diagnosed in all cases. Lesions consisted of diffuse severe epidermal hyperkeratosis and mild hyperplasia with mild lymphoplasmacytic dermatitis and no folliculitis. Dermatophytes were noted histologically as hyphae and spores in hair shafts, and follicular and epidermal keratin. Trichophyton sp. was grown in 5/6 animals where culture was performed, with a molecular diagnosis of Arthroderma benhamiae/Trichophyton mentagrophytes in these five cases. Metagenomic analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples from three cases identified fungi from 17 orders in phyla Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. Alteration of therapy from ketaconazole, which was unsuccessful in four out of five early cases, to terbinafine or nitraconazole led to the resolution of disease and recovery to release in four subsequent animals. In all, six animals were euthanized or died due to dermatopathy, no cases resolved spontaneously, and six cases were resolved with therapy. The work we present demonstrates an atypical lesion and anatomical distribution due to dermatophytosis in a series of free-ranging wild porcupines and the successful development of novel techniques for extracting and sequencing nucleic acids from fungus in archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded animal tissue.
  • Authors

  • Needle, David
  • Gibson, Robert
  • Hollingshead, Nicholas A
  • Sidor, Inga
  • Marra, Nicholas J
  • Rothenheber, Derek
  • Thachil, Anil J
  • Stanhope, Bryce J
  • Stevens, Brian A
  • Ellis, Julie C
  • Spanswick, Shelley
  • Murray, Maureen
  • Goodman, Laura B
  • Publication Date

  • September 30, 2019
  • Published In

  • Pathogens  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Erethizon
  • dermatophyte
  • fungal genetics
  • fungus
  • metagenomics
  • molecular diagnostics
  • porcupine
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • E171
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 4