Holly Springs K-9 Officer Battles Rare Fungal Infection

The Holly Springs Police Department is a family. When one of its officers is facing a trying situation, officers are there for each other to offer support and encouragement.  This also hols true not just for the human officers but also the canine officers.  Recently, The Holly Springs K-9 unit faced a rare health scare with one of its officers.  In the same way they rally around each other, the department also rallied for Storm, a three year-old Belgian Malinois.  He has been part of the Holly Springs K-9 unit for a little over a year.  Shortly after he joined the unit, his handler, Officer Daniel Kozik, first noticed a small spot on his side the size of a quarter that had lost hair.  It was swollen and looked to have fluid under the skin.  In April, Storm's primary care veterinarians at Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital referred him to our specialists after receiving results from the biopsy of the area in question.

Dr. Rae Hutchins, Director of Specialty Services and an internal medicine specialist, diagnosed Storm with cutaneous zygomycosis. It is a rare fungal infection of which Dr. Hutchins has only seen 1-2 cases in her career.

Cutaneous zygomycosis is a skin infection that usually occurs due to inoculation of spores from the environment via minor trauma such as a scratch of insect bite.  It is not transmitted between hosts (i.e., from dog to dog or dog to people).  It is sometimes seen in working dogs and field trial dogs simply because they are more commonly exposed to the type of environment that harbors the organism that causes this condition.  Treatment involves aggressive surgery to remove the affected area followed up with close medical management and appropriate anti-fungal medication to ensure the infection does not spread. Prognosis can be good if the infection is contained.

Dr. Elaine Holme, a surgery specialist at VSH, performed surgery on Storm and he is recovering comfortably and ahead of schedule.  The Holly Springs Police Department hopes to have Storm back on duty protecting the community as soon as he is healthy and cleared to return to his daily activities.