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Potential Fungal infection?

This is a discussion on Potential Fungal infection? within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hi all, I posted a question about this a while back at this thread (where a photo is also available): ...

Sick Axolotl? Axolotl looking down in the gills? The doctors are in.

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Old 7th February 2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Potential Fungal infection?

Hi all,

I posted a question about this a while back at this thread (where a photo is also available): Red spots . I recently used my axolotl as a demonstration specimen for a herpetology laboratory at Cornell U. and the grad. student TA's thought that the strange lesion on her head seemed like some sort of fungal infection. In addition to the dark, brick red center, the mark is surrounded by a sulfury-yellow border that is not so easy to make out in the photograph. It has a somewhat porous looking texture (i.e. tiny "pits" that can be seen if observed closely. She has a similar yellow mark on left side just above her hind leg. As stated in my post from last year, none of these marks have really changed much, but they still worry me. If there is something that I can do about them I would really like to, but I need to know what they are first. I checked out axolotl.org's health section, but couldn't find much in the way of pictures to compare mine to. She also still has the little dark red flecks on her body (not all over, but there are at least half a dozen of them). I don't know if those are related, but they are of similar color to the center of the mark on her head. Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks!



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Old 8th February 2009   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Potential Fungal infection?

HI MrGuyPerson,

Has your axie shown other signs of illness or stress? You mentioned it still has a voracious appetite in your previous thread so thats definitely a positive sign. However, does your axie present with curled tail tip, forward facing gills, unusual writhing or twitching behaviour, excessive floating, other appearing lesions or excessive mucus like coating on the skin?

Is the lesion draining with a discharge? How about the red specks, do they appear to be growing in size or in number? How long have these lesions been present? Were they a gradual onset or acute in presentation?

There are a few differentials for the lesion on the head.

- Granuloma (deep seeded fungal mycosis, parasites, embedded foreign body)
- Abscess (tend to be bacterial infection but can be by other pathogens)
- Neoplasia (disorder of growth, can be benign or malignant)
- Nevus (mole) or 'scar tissue'.

It could just be 'scar tissue' from a previous trauma. Although axolotls regenerate, they sometimes don't regenerate in the same perfect manner we want them to and can look different.

There is a very good vet facility in cornell uni, have you considered taking it to the vets there? I really think a fine needle aspirate for cytology and a small skin biopsy for histopathology might be useful in giving you a more definitive diagnosis. It would be risky to try medicate or treat the axie without a definitive diagnosis.

I also asked about if the axie twitches or writhes a lot because the red 'specks' could be attributed to external parasites. If the parasites are continually present, so would the specks, they tend to become more over time if left untreated.

A conservative treatment would be to fridge your axolotl for a month. The fridge would destress your axie, boost its immune system and render pathogens less viable or proliferative. It would buy you some time to investigate deeper. You can search the forums for instructions on fridging.

Salt baths for fungal treatment will only be warranted if the lesion is indeed caused by fungus. Otherwise, unnecessary salt baths can be stressful and do more harm than good.

Cheers



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Old 9th February 2009   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Potential Fungal infection?

Her gills are usually held back. I haven't noticed them forward in a very long time. She does float a fair amount, but is usually resting amongst the floating plants. She splits her time more or less between floating and resting on the bottom. She is usually floating when not fed, and sits on the bottom after a large meal. I haven't noticed any strange movements. She doesn't really move much overall anyway. The tip of her tail might be slightly curled, but not a lot. It's a little hard to tell. I might be trying to make myself see a curled tail, it's that slight. I haven't noticed her gain any addition spots. I wish I could tell you the onset of these marks, but she was out of my care when she received them. My now ex-girlfriend was looking after her and I don't think that she was really attentive enough to notice how she got them (probably why the marks are there in the first place). The axolotl is also old, at least 9 years, so perhaps she is just showing age. She's still a big eater, snapping at anything that might be food when presented.



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Old 9th February 2009   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Potential Fungal infection?

Hi Mrguyperson,

Based on the history you provided, i would not be overly concerned. There would usually be accompanying signs of stress and illness especially over such a protracted time frame.

If the lesion on the head has not affected the axie in any other way, except perhaps cosmetic reasons, it should be fine to let it be, unless you want to pursue a full diagnostic workup and removal.

You can also try fridging just to see if the lesion appears to shrink during that period. Fridging has no negative impact on your axie (In fact boosts its immunity) but renders pathogens less viable. If the lesion is indeed caused by a pathogen, you might be able to see a reduction in size.

Cheers



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