Yellow Fungus Disease

Discussion in 'Bearded Dragons' started by Cammy, Jan 6, 2013.

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  1. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    **Note from Cammy: Sorry for the random highlighting and whatnot. I will format this at a later date. =)

    Yellow Fungus: Possible Cause & Effects ()
    Published: June 18, 2008
    An Article by Cheri Smith
    History: As many of you know in early 2000's, for several months we collected data from owners of beardies that had what we have called the "Yellow Fungus", for lack of a better name. The Pogona_Diseases list on Yahoo was started by Jeni Graybeal because she lost a dragon to it. She asked me to join the list, since I had lost two dragons to the fungus and had been collecting any information we could find about this and emailing professioals about it. Her idea was to make a central location where owners, veterinarians and researches could find and share information and possible treatments until more was known to the medical community. We, like many others, could not find what ours had until it was too late, and even though we took them to herp experts, no one knew what this was as it did not culture normally from scrappings in the normal time. We now know there are several types of fungal infections being dubbed "Yellow Fungus". We know some of the treatment methods that have worked and cured some of the dragons. Recently, we think we may know what is the cause of many of them coming down with this. Not all "yellow fungus", but we suspect in many of them.
    Although we have not been able to find a research group to take on this project steadily (we are still looking) we have been able to collect data and photos that shows an emerging pattern with many of the cases, thanks to the owners that contacted us. Jeni, ours and almost all of the 78 cases we have collected histories on, had previously been treated for parasites or infections with antibiotics, most of those with Albon, a popular drug as it is effective in treating coccidia. The others that did not fit this profile were dragons that lived on soil and we believe may have contacted a different fungus from soil. Dr Jean Pare has been studying that and published on himand his grouos findings now also.
    We believe that antibiotics are also killing the good bacteria in their digestive systems and allowing yeast that is normally in their system to flourish and creating massive infections. We think dragons are then excreting the yeast/fungus through feces, which in turn is getting on their skin/scales around the vent area. (the vent area being the most common first visible sign of the problem, but not in all cases) and causing the "Yellow Fungus" externally. Further, once they have it they can pass it to other dragons or spread it to other areas of their bodies and cagemates. Left untreated, both externally and internally, it destroys tissue and eventually kills the dragon.
    "Candida yeast can become so massive and invasive that is enters the Fungal form where it provides very long, root-like structures that penetrate the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal wall. This penetration breaks down the protective barrier between the intestinal tract and bloodstream, allowing many foreign and toxic substances to enter and pollute the body systemically. As a result, proteins and other food wastes that are not completely digested or eliminated can assault the immune system and cause tremendous allergic reactions, fatigue and many other health problems. It also allows the Candida itself and bacteria to enter the bloodstream, from which it may find its way to other tissues, resulting in far-ranging effects such as soreness of the joints, chest pain, sinus and skin problems, etc."
    Source :, regarding Candida yeast in human infections.
    Very simply put, we think that many (not all) of the "Yellow Fungus" cases are a yeast infection in the digestive system that bearded dragons developed after treatment from antibiotics - something we all know can happen in humans, but until recently never put it together with this horrible disease we thought bearded dragons had!
  2. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    After talking to veterinarians, getting their confirmation that this is a very likely situation to happen following treatment with antibiotics, we started searching the medical references for what could be the possible effects caused by some of the fungus that have been identified in ill dragons with these skin lesions and colorations.
    Rather than load this with quotes, please feel free to use the search engines on reptile fungus, candida and yeast infection or email me for URL's if you want, but the summary is that when antibiotics are used, they are not selective; they tend to kill all single-cell creatures living symbiotically. Good bacteria keeps yeast in check, remove it and the yeast flourishes. Yeast Infection that begin in the gastrointestinal tract spreads to other parts of the body. These move into a fungal stage and create toxins that contaminate the tissues where it weakens the immune system, kidneys, lungs, liver, brain and nervous system. We do not have the laboratory proof to state this is what is causing it to appear on the skin/scales. We theorize that through excrement it may be causing the yellow discoloring, lesions, sores and scale loss.
    If antibiotics are used, always follow up with probiotic supplements. Albon is an antibiotic, as the base is a sulfa drug. As one vet explains, based on what we think, if Albon is wiping out the normal gut flora-fauna of the intestines, then it stands to reason that an organism that is present, but that is not susceptible to Albon, will take over. Not just Albon, but any antibiotic can do this, especially in a weaken bearded dragon. This begins a cycle that will doom any animal. They get fungal infections due to the good bacteria, that keeps it balanced in the digestive system, being destroyed. They then get a secondary infection, such as respiratory or repeat coccidia, due to the immune system being so run down by the yeast infection, which is then treated with antibiotics, causing yet more yeast buildup.
    We are not saying Albon or any antibiotic is a "bad drug" or not to treat dragons that need it. Albon is one of the most widely used and effective drugs for coccidia, which in itself can be fatal if left untreated in heavy loads, besides doing irreversible damage to organs. But do discuss with your Doctor options for replacing the good bacteria that may be affected in the treatment, and be observant of possible yeast/fungal infections following a treatment with any antibiotics. If caught early enough, it also can be treated. The longer it is left untreated, the harder it is to stop and the more powerful antifungal drugs need to be used, that can have some serious negative side effects and is very harsh to reptiles.
    The fact the dragon has coccidia is in indicator of a possible broader problem that may be husbandry, illness or stress related. This may be leaving the door open for other opportunistic infections and some "yellowfungus" may be secondary to that. Check that they are receiving a proper diet, correct temps and supplements, if you are not sure ask on reptile forums or lists.
    Which comes first... the internal fungus or the external, both or only one? They could be totally unrelated, one may lead to another.... we really do not know the answer to that. We do know that many dragons withyellow discoloration on skin/scales respond to the external treatment with antifungal topicals and probiotics internally. Dragons with lack of eating problems or other symptoms with a prior history of antibiotic treatments may need oral meds, again with probiotic. Some may need both internal and external meds, whether they are both related or one is opportunistic on the other, again, we do not know the answer to that, discuss this with your medical professional.
  3. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    One type still eludes us, and it is particularly deadly. Although we also found this one in bearded dragons that had previous treatments with medications that we think are causing the other fungal problems, without credible research on it we can not say that the catalyst exists in their natural fauna like the other fungi. That one is Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii, but there is a researcher also working with it and hopefully he will have more information soon. He also feels this is not just in bearded dragons like we see so much of the candida, but in many species of reptiles.
    From what we are reading in the data we have collected, this one appears it may be originating in soil as many dragons that have it, were living outdoors or contact it possibly from soil such as in laying boxes. One breeder reports finding a bright yellow glowing substance covering the laying box she previously used on a female dragon that developed the fungus. That dragon responded well to the skin fungus treatment, it cleared and nice new skin appeared, but it was not eating well and given the oral drugs.
    We have following and taken in to test treat many dragons with this these signs. Most we have been able to clear, we have lost a few. Some responded well with with only probotics added to their diets, Nolvasan sprays and lamisil on the external fungus. The skin fungus has at times almost totally disappeared within 24 hours. Several other bearded dragons in more advance stages are under treatment with other topical and antifungal oral meds and seem to be responding, some of those are mentioned below. Several have been clear for months now and appear cured. There have been success with both oral and topical treatments, but oral medications do not have the success rate of the ones with the skin fungus only without some side effects.
    Candida is one of only several fungus types that we believe is creating a problem for bearded dragons internally. Another frequently found fungus in necropsies was aspergillus's, found in the lungs, liver and intestines. Whether these are related to the skin fungus, part of another disease or a combination of husbandry practices or compromised immune systems, we do not know. We do know that the skin funguswe see often is responding, turning dark with treatment and returning to normal appearance. This can be very contagious, if you suspect a dragon has it, isolate him from others and wash well between handling them.
    Hopefully, this can help other dragons and owners. Please think seriously, each time you treat a reptile with antibiotics, about replacing the good bacteria. As far as we know, this does not harm them. Talk to you Doctor about this option, get his opinions and please share them with us.
  4. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    Treatments that have had success:

    Bathing/soaking- Nolvasan or a genetic of it:. Nolvasan soaks or spray on the affected area (not the eyes) and at least one inch out from the areas you see affected for at least 20 - 30minutes in the AM. What I have done is set them in a rubberrmaid or sterlite tub ans misted the areas. For around the eyes use a q-tip to apply the Nolvasan and keep it out of the eyes. Rinse, dry and then put on a thin layer of the lamisil. Repeat the thin layer of lamisil at night again. If the skin/scales get too sore, you can cut back to every other day for the soaks and clear water rinses.. The Nolvasan is very vital to the treatment, without it you are not reaching the active fungus or you are just appling the Topicals to dead tissue. You may see skin/scales slough off, the Nolvasan is not causing this, it is already there as dead skin and scales, the Nolvasan is only revealing it. Contact me if you have any questions about this and I do have photos of it also, this may happen and is normal if the fungus has got deep into the tissue.
    Topical (external) Medication: Miconazole 2%; Tioconazole ( this is found in Monistat); Lamisil, or any product with terbinafine hydrochloride 1% in it; this from the data we have collected is the most effective in turning the fungus black and killing it externally; You can also use Zylafen; Gentamicin Sulfate and Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic solution 0.3% to treat the wounds with.
    Probiotics: We found a good product called Acidophiliz+, that is said to be Veterinarian recommended and we also note that it contains the two main ingredients that we have had good success with and the bearded dragons took well. It is made by Pet Authority and we located it in a pet store chain, but you can order it online if you click on the name of it above. Give the reptile some Acidolphiliz+ daily to try and restore the gut fauna with good bacteria. Use Up to 1/2 a dropper of Acidolphiliz+ (but at least .10 cc).
    Possible other sources of replacement of "Good Bacteria" : Acidophilus, Nutra-Bac, Essential Probiotics, Bifidus Balance, Jarro-Dophilus, Nutri-Bac and Acidophilus Blend Digestive Suppory by Rexell found in Walmarts.
    Oral (internal) Medications: These MUST be Medically Supervised by a veterinarian. These can be harsh meds on their systems and this needs to be discussed in detail with your Vet and you aware of possible side affects We can not stress enough watching hydration, these meds are especially harsh on kidneys and livers when they already have internal problems with them from the fungus: Fluconazole; Itraconazole; Terbinafine (only one type used at a time). Oral antifungal are a last ditch effort AFTER all else has fails due to probably close to 95% of the dragons that go on the harsher synthetic meds like them, die or have complications from the meds
    I suggest you follow the other treatment routine information exactly first to see if it can be controlled or cleared it first without the harsh medications and the problems they add. We have spent years working with these routines now and hundreds of dragons to get this one that is the most successful with least side affects. Many times, for some reason, people do not follow it or leave out one of the factors and then have problems still or lose their dragons. I suggest you only go to oral antifungal medications as a final resource to save them. There are some being tested with Nystatin right now that seems to be tolerated betters than the iothers listed above, so I will keep this updated on that or discuss it with your veterinarian and see what they suggest.
    Bearded dragons that have contracted the external fungus from another dragon, rather than being producers (dragons which have developed the infection internally possibly after treatment with antibiotics), may not need to be treated internally with the oral medications. Often the soaks and topical anitfungals will clear them or other added items that will be listed below.
    Other Options besides Oral Antifungal Medications: Both the Echinacea and the Grapefruit Seed Extract are showing success in really hard to treat animals that the nolvasan and topical antifungal are not clearing. Also in ones that react poorly to the internal antifungal medications They come in a liquid form and you can add a drop or two of each to some food that you know they eat all of. This has worked when even the oral meds were failing or taking their toll on dragons and they needed to be taken off them.
    Use a non particle substrate while treating, shelf liner, paper towel or carpet is best and change it, wipe down or clean it daily
    Time Duration: Keep up all treatment for at least 2 weeks past the time you see the last traces of any activefungus. If it returns, restart the same routine and continue it longer past the time you see it clear, I recommend a month.
    Please discuss with your veterinarian about trying this routine before you try the harsher oral antifungal and if it fails then you can try them later, also stop all fruits. Fruits have sugar, sugar feeds molds/yeast, you need to delete the sugars from their diets while treating them for yellow fungus. Give fresh rich greens, pellets if your can not do insects or fed them insect, they need some animals protein to help fight this and keep their immune system strong[/p].
    For more information about this illness, photos and owner discussion please see : Yahoo! : Pogona_Diseases Group
    This article was written by, and is copyright, Cheri Smith © 2002-2003.
    Article by Cheri Smith
    Copyright Cheri Smith, The Reptile Rooms © 2003
    All images Copyright The Reptile Rooms © 2004 Unless otherwise noted.

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