Pythiosis Insidiosum

Pythiosis results from the infection with the fungal-like organism Pythium insidiosum and occurs in Equines, Canines, Felines, Bovines, Humans and other species. This disease is also known as Phycomycosis, “Florida Horse Leeches”, Swamp Cancer and other colloquial names. The disease is worldwide in distribution and is especially prevalent in tropical regions. Recently, numerous cases have been reported in the Midwest and Northeast United States and as far north as Wisconsin and Washington state.

Pythium insidiosum is an Oomycete of the Kingdom Stramenopila. Pythium develops hyphae like structures and, in culture, appears similar to the fungi. It is one of many organisms belonging to the Pythium family which typically infect plants in very wet environments. Pythium propagates by producing motile Oospores which travel through standing water and infect new hosts. Oospores which come in contact with susceptible animals may invade via breaks in the skin and set up infection.

Recently researchers have described 2 new Oomycetes diseases; Lagenidiosis, caused by infection with Lagenidium species and Paralagenidiosis, caused by infection with Paralagenidium sp. Multi variants of these 2 organisms have been described and documented to cause significant disease in animals. These organisms are closely related to Pythium and are indistinguishable in clinical presentation or histopathological examination. We have developed ELISA diagnostics for both of these diseases and now offer these along with Pythiosis ELISA as a panel for diagnosis and differentiation of Oomycetes infection.

Research and development of an immunologic treatment for Pythiosis continues.