Dermatophytosis is a common and highly contagious zoonotic skin disease in companion animals. This disease is a major concern in geographical areas that contain large numbers of stray animal populations. Numerous surveys on dermatophytosis among stray animal populations worldwide range between 27% to 50%. In recent years, the US territory of Puerto Rico was impacted by several natural disasters such as hurricanes, which has led to a large increase of abandonment cases and an increase in the stray animal population. Due to this, large low-cost spay/neuter clinics and trap-neuter-release programs have become a more common practice on the island. During these events, veterinary staff are exposed to multiple animals with no health history, and therefore, zoonotic diseases are of concern. The aim of this study was to provide information regarding the presence of dermatophyte species in symptomatic and asymptomatic stray dogs and cats in a region of Puerto Rico. Hair samples were collected from 99 stray animals with and without dermatological clinical signs. The hair samples were cultured on plates containing rapid sporulation medium and dermatophyte test medium. All cultures were evaluated microscopically to confirm the presence of dermatophytes. Then, all dermatophytes were further evaluated with MALDI-TOF MS to compare both diagnostic tests. A total of 19 animals (19%) were positive for dermatophyte growth. Of these animals, 18/19 were infected with M. canis and 1/19 with Trichophyton spp. Animals with clinical lesions were positive only 13.5% of the time compared to asymptomatic animals, who were positive in 36% of the sample population. All 19 dermatophytes (100%) diagnosed with microscopic evaluation were confirmed with MALDI-TOF MS. Our results indicate that there is a prevalence of 19% of dermatophytosis among the stray dog and cat population of the southeastern coast of the island.
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