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Newsletter 07/2018
We are pleased to welcome you to the monthly BattLab newsletter. This newsletter will bring you the latest news and information about our laboratory and all tests that we can offer to all our clients.
Thanks to all the vets that joined us tonight for the third of our evening seminars, this time focused on cavitary effusion in dogs and cats and the diagnostic tests we can run to make a correct diagnosis. We are delighted to say we had a full house again. Next BattLab evening seminar will be in October. Stay tuned!
Scabies is a transmissible infestation of the skin caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, and presents with intense, non-seasonal pruritus, that is more pronounced in hairless areas, typically ears and elbows. Clinical diagnosis may be complicated due to overlapping clinical signs; differentials may include hypersensitivity to fleas, food and environmental allergens, pyoderma, demodicosis, dermatophytosis, Malassezia dermatitis (as discussed in the following article) and contact dermatitis.
Diagnosis can be achieved by cytological examination of skin scrapings, however, false negative results are often seen. According to Lower et colleagues, mites are seen in only 20-50% of infected dogs. Serology testing (ELISA) is now available at BattLab, and can assist you in the diagnosis of this disease. This test aims to measure serum IgG antibodies against Sarcoptes spp. and has been reported as having a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 90% (Lower et at, 2001). A false negative may occur in the first weeks of infestation, as dogs seroconvert 3 to 5 weeks after infestation. Similarly, young animals receiving corticosteroids at the time of the sample being taken may have a higher false-negative rate. If you require any further information about this test do not hesitate to contact us.
Test:  Sarcoptes antibody testing (ELISA)
Sample needed: Fresh serum
Turn around time: 2 working days
Price list
Malassezia are species of yeast that colonise the surface layers of the skin in healthy dogs. The most common species found on dogs is Malassezia pachydermatis, and this is commonly found on the skin, in the ear canals and on the mucosal surfaces. For the vast majority of animals, these yeast organisms cause no harm. However, when numbers multiply, inflammation of the skin can result.
Malassezia dermatitis is a common problem in dogs. It usually presents with itchy, scaly and inflamed skin at sites such as the lips, ear canals, neck, armpits, between the toes and in the skin folds around the face. Many dogs experience greasy skin with an offensive and distinctive odour. When dermatitis has been present for some time, the skin becomes thickened and frequently darkens due to excessive pigmentation; secondary bacteria infection is common.
The quickest and easiest way to diagnose Malassezia is by cytology. Samples collected using glass slide impression, acetate tape impression, superficial skin scraping, or cotton swab method are evaluated under the microscope to ascertain the numbers of Malassezia yeast, bacteria, and inflammatory cells present on superficial skin. Malassezia appears as round or oval budding yeast-like cells 3-8um in diameter staining dark blue. They are either single, clumped, or adhered to keratinocytes. 
Fig.1 Malassezia pachydermatis admixed with anucleated keratinocytes from an ear swab of a dog with clinical signs of otitis.
A challenge in diagnosis of Malassezia dermatitis is the lack of agreement with regard to the significance of numbers of yeasts present on cutaneous cytology. Normal numbers of yeasts vary according to body site, breed and sex and there is an overlapping between yeast numbers in clinically normal and diseased dogs. Ultimately, the diagnosis of Malassezia dermatitis should rely on the combination of clinical presentation and cytology findings. Even low numbers of Malassezia organisms noted on cytology may indicate Malassezia dermatitis, if samples are collected from inflamed, pruritic skin.
Malassezia dermatitis carries a good prognosis. Thorough efforts should be made to identify causative factors such as underlying allergies, endocrine disease, neoplasia, or skin folds, to help prevent recurrent infection. Once concurrent infections and primary disease are adequately treated, management of M. pachydermatis induced dermatitis is usually straightforward and treated with antifungal drugs. 
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