Sometimes dealing with a pet’s illness requires a two-pronged approach. Yes, the symptom of greatest concern must be dealt with, but so should the underlying issue that caused it to develop in the first place. This is the case with a condition called eosinophilic granuloma complex (EGC) in cats. Owners want the dramatic lesions that are oftentimes associated with EGC to go away, but to prevent them from coming back the core problem must also be addressed.
Eosinophilic granuloma complex consists of three types of lesions that look different but have very similar etiologies.
1. The typical eosinophilic or linear granuloma looks like a long, narrow lesion that runs down the back of the thigh or involves the lower lip or chin. Sometimes the footpads are also involved. The skin is often pink or tinged yellow, raised and bumpy, and hairless.
2. Eosinophilic plaques are typically found on the skin of the abdomen, inner thigh, throat, or around the anus. Affected areas are raised, pink or red, and appear raw.
3. Indolent or rodent ulcers affect a cat’s upper lip and sometimes the tongue, too. These lesions usually look like a pink, eroded sore rather than a mass.
The most common cause of any of the three lesions associated with EGC is a skin allergy. Cats can be allergic to external parasites (fleas, mites, mosquito bites, etc.), pollen, mold spores, dust mites, ingredients in food – pretty much all the same things that people can be allergic to. Determining exactly what a cat is allergic to may not be necessary the first time a cat develops EGC or if he or she only infrequently develops lesions that rapidly resolve, but cats with persistent or especially severe lesions should undergo a complete work up. This may include allergy testing, hypoallergenic food trials, skin scrapings, and skin biopsies.
Treatment and Prognosis
Most eosinophilic granuloma complex lesions respond well to corticosteroids, although relatively high or frequent doses may initially be necessary to get the condition under control. In severe cases, surgery or treatment with immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine or chlorambucil may be necessary. Prescription flea preventatives are often recommended to eliminate external parasites as a potential contributing cause. Cats with food allergies must avoid eating ingredients that trigger their symptoms, and individuals with environmental allergies may need long-term immunosuppressive therapy or immunotherapy to prevent EGC flare-ups.
In conclusion, effectively treating and preventing eosinophilic granuloma complex symptoms requires that owners and veterinarians deal with the obvious problem and search for its underlying cause.