Pelodera Dermatitis

Pelodera (syn.Rhabditis) dermatitis, also known as rhabditic folliculitis, is a rare parasitic infestation that causes a short-term skin infection. The condition is caused when larvae of roundworms known as Pelodera strongyloides invade the skin. The adult worms are not parasitic, but their third stage larval form is. These small worms live in decaying organic matter such as damp straw bedding, hay, or soil. On rare occasions, they can invade the mammalian skin, causing severe alopecic and crusting dermatitis on skin sites that come into contact with the ground. Secondary bacterial infection may occur. In chronic cases thickening and darkening of the skin is also present. Itch can vary from mild to intense.



Diagnosis is made based on the history and physical findings. Deep skin scrapings will demonstrate the small motile nematode larvae. Skin biopsy can also reveal nematode segments within hair follicles and within inflammatory reactions underneath the skin. Treatment is effective and simple. Change the animal's environment which is harboring the larvae. Since decaying organic matter is a typical habitat of P. strongyloides, removal of straw bedding from the kennel is imperative to allow successful medical treatment. After cleaning the environment, spray all ground surfaces with malathion (one ounce of 57-59% malathion per gallon of water). Appropriate antibiotic may be used if secondary pus-forming infection develops. Prednisone is given for a few days if itchiness is intense. Bathing a dog with an antiseborrheic shampoo will help to remove the scales and crusts. Various parasiticides have been reported to be effective such as organophosphate dips, selamectin and ivermectin.4 Prognosis is good, provided the environment is treated adequately.3

A dog severely affected by pelodera dermatitis
Severe pelodera dermatitis in a dog
Image source BioMed Central Ltd
Under Creative Commons Attribution License

References

  1. Scott, Miller, Griffin. Parasitic Skin Diseases
  2. Pelodera (syn. Rhabditis) strongyloides as a cause of dermatitis – a report of 11 dogs from Finland
  3. Manual of Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat. Sue Paterson
  4. Hair Loss Disorders in Domestic Animals. Lars Mecklenburg, Monika Linek, Desmond J. Tobin (editors)

 

 


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