The first case of onychomycosis in a koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) due to atypical isolates of Microsporum gypseum, a diagnostic challenge


1 Department of Medical Parasitology & Mycology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Medical Parasitology & Mycology, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology, Tokyo, Japan

4 Department of Medical Mycology, School of Medicine, Health Research Institute, Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

5 General Medical Education and Research Center, Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan


Background and Purpose: Superficial mycotic infections have been only poorly described in koalas and there are no reliable mycologically confirmed data regarding clinical isolation of dermatophytes in this animal. We report an 11-yearold female koala, kept in a zoo in Tokyo, Japan, and presenting with hyperkeratotic lesions and scaly plaques on forepaw claws and pads reminiscent of fungal infection.
Case Report: Direct microscopy of the scrapings was indicative of a dermatophyte infection. By culture and subsequent repeated subculturing of clinical specimens on Sabouraud dextrose agar, Mycobiotic agar, and potato dextrose agar, two distinct strains with different colony morphotypes (designed as types I and II) were identified. Macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of the strains were suggestive of three different species, i.e. Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, and M. fulvum. However, partial sequencing of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA, translation elongation factor-1α (Tef-1α), and beta-tubulin (BT2) genes confirmed the identity of both isolates as M. gypseum. The animal was treated with a continuous terbinafine regimen (250 mg/kg) once daily for 12 weeks.
Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, the present report is the first confirmed case of dermatophytosis in a koala. The genetics underlying a variety of phenotypic traits in most classical dermatophyte species are unknown, and further studies are needed to understand this phenomenon.