CDC issues warning over cat-transmitted sporotrichosis

dvm360dvm360 May 2023
Volume 54
Issue 5
Pages: 20

Cat-transmitted sporotrichosis is a major threat to Brazil with fears of spreading to the United States

 Image courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Image courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in a teleconference earlier this month that cat-transmitted sporotrichosis has emerged in Brazil as a zoonotic epidemic and major public health threat. The conference call also stated that there is a potential for this disease to make its way into the United States, putting cats, veterinarians, and pet parents all at risk.

“Cat-transmitted sporotrichosis is certainly a concern for the United States,” expressed Ian Hennessee, PhD, epidemic intelligence service officer in the Mycotic Diseases Branch of the CDC, in the monthly Zoonoses & One Health Updates Call.1 “Its establishment would be a threat to stray and domestic cat populations and also a risk to veterinarians and cat owners.”

According to a release by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA),1 cats are known to carry high quantities of Sporothrix brasiliensis, which is easily spread to other cats to humans, and then possibly to dogs. Sporotrichosis is caused by a group of fungi from the Sporothrix genus that have worldwide, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. Cat-transmitted sporotrichosis was first identified in Brazil in the 1980s and has since made its way across Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

The most common form of sporotrichosis is skin infections. According to the CDC,2 the sporotrichosis infection starts when fungus enters the skin through a cut or scrape. This will typically happen after encountering contaminated plant matter.

Infected cats will present with lesions on their face, often around their nose. The lesion develops from wounds from a fight with an infected cat and when the cat licks the infected wounds and then other parts of their body, the fungi are then transferred to the animal’s face and mouth.2 For humans, the most affected areas are the skin on the hands or arms.

Hennessee encourages veterinary professionals to notify local health departments about suspected cases or unusual sporotrichosis trends.


  1. CDC issues warning about spread of cat-transmitted sporotrichosis. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. March 29, 2023. Accessed March 30, 2023.
  2. Sporothrix brasiliensis. Published July 5, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2023.
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