Mold May Pose Health Threat To Pets

The deaths of two cats from what is believed to be the first documented case of toxic black mold poisoning in pets point to a new health concern for pet owners, according to a veterinarian who co-authors a report in the Sept. 1, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Douglas Mader, a veterinary specialist in Marathon, Fla., was performing routine dental procedures on two cats when he noticed frothy blood within endotracheal tubes used to supply anesthesia to the animals. The veterinarian immediately stopped the procedures, but both animals died — one the following day, the other about two weeks later.

“The circumstances of these cases are just not heard of,” Mader said. “Anesthesia doesn’t cause pulmonary hemorrhage [bleeding from the lungs.]” These were healthy, indoor cats. Examinations conducted prior to the dental cleanings showed no indications of illness.

Blood collected prior to the cats’ death was tested and demonstrated the presence of the toxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “toxic black mold.” Exposure to the mold can cause respiratory-related health problems, pulmonary hemorrhage and death in people. It had not previously been associated with disease in pets, Mader said.

The toxin from the black mold causes a weakening of the capillaries in the lungs. When the capillaries are stressed, they burst and bleed. The cats died from complications arising from the pulmonary hemorrhage.

The cats lived in a home that sustained water damage during a hurricane in October 2005, seven months prior to the development of pulmonary hemorrhage. After Mader discovered the presence of the toxins, he urged the cats’ owners to check their home for mold.

“Sure enough, they had very severe mold contamination in their walls,” Mader said.

Mader hopes the report will raise awareness that illnesses associated with mold can also affect pets, particularly those living in flood-prone areas. He also suggests pet owners share more information with their veterinarian.

“I think the most important thing is for clients to be aware of things in their environment that could potentially impact the health of animals,” Mader said. “They need to let their veterinarian know.”

5 Responses to “Mold May Pose Health Threat To Pets”

  1. kaefamily says:

    and we have an organization that trains dogs to detect various types of molds?

  2. highnote says:

    So is this the mold that is found in houses that harm humans? Is this mold possibly found outside the home as well?

  3. lilmisscookie says:

    This is an interesting article. We can forget just how much can affect our pets. It’s also sad to know that mold affects them pretty much the same as us. Kaefamily brings up a good point. But is it any worse than the dogs sniffing out drugs? There are easier and cheaper ways of testing for mold, so I’m not too worried that more dogs will be getting into this line of work. Highnote: there are MANY molds that are toxic, Stachybotrys chartarum seems to be one of those that is. Stachybotrys is a “wet” mold, and has a hard time getting it’s spores into the air, so it is almost never seen in an outdoor sample (I personally have never seen Stachybotrys in an outdoor sample). Many types of mold will grow in your home, and anything that does should be considered unhealthy/toxic and cleaned up. Just don’t fall for the media’s phrase: Toxic Black Mold! MANY molds are black, and MANY are toxic.

  4. Moonbeams says:

    What I find interesting in this article is that it appears the “mold” was somewhat hidden - so if we have water damage, check for mold not so obvious.

  5. BonnieM says:

    I always worry about toxins. I know that pets can get into things they shouldn’t.

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