Orri's unusual skin disorder

Orri is a 2 and a half year old domestic cat who has recently been diagnosed with pemphigus foliaceous. "What on earth is that?" I hear you ask. Pemphigus is an uncommon auto-immune skin disorder where the immune system targets skin cells at the border of haired and non-haired areas. This causes the skin to flake and hair to fall out. It does this by producing auto-antibodies which target the 'glue' that holds skin cells together, resulting in them detaching and falling off.

Orri's condition started very suddenly. It began with an itchy nose, and then itchy eyes and lips. Then her hair and skin started to flake off these areas, leaving bald patches. The skin became red and infected. At her first veterinary visit for this condition, a plan was made to conduct a biopsy on Orri's skin in order to get a diagnosis as soon as possible because the skin problem presented was a very unusual one and was progressing rapidly. The biopsy revealed the skin disorder is pemphigus foliaceous.

The key to controlling this disease is to suppress the immune system. High doses of cortisone are used for this but in Orri's case, it was not effective on its own. A second medication which targets white blood cells has been started as prescribed by a skin specialist. Orri will need regular blood tests to monitor her white blood cell count whilst on this medication. At this stage, it is unknown how successful the treatment will be and whether Orri will ever be able to be off medication completely but she is starting to become less itchy so we are hoping of a good outcome.

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