Erythema multiforme (EM) is a immune-mediated disease paraneoplastic disease of dogs involving T-cell attack on nonself-epithelial and mucocutaneous antigens thought to be associated with reactions to viral, bacterial and various drugs. It has been observed as a prelude to thymoma, splenic sarcoma and lymphoma in dogs.
This disease, in its various forms, is clinically difficult to distinguish from pemphigus vulgaris and epitheliotropic T-cell lymphoma, and can occur days to months after exposure to antigenic stimuli. The spectrum of presentations, which are difficult to distinguish within themselves, include erythema multiforme minor, erythema multiforme major, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.
Although EM has been associated with many purported triggering factors, a true cause-and-effect relationship is rarely documented. Elimination of the trigger factors are important in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, but in up to 20% of canine cases, identification of the cause has not been possible.
Clinically affected dogs often present with stomatitis and numerous papular erythematous skin eruptions in the axillae, groin, mucocutaneous junctions and pinnae.
This disease is characterized by ulcerative stomatitis with no significant or only minor abnormalities on haematology and serum biochemistry panels and production of T-cell clones against particular epithelial keratinocytes in the skin and mucous membranes. Histologically, EM usually shows individual keratinocyte apoptosis associated with lymphocyte exocytosis in all layers of the epidermis.
Various diseases have been associated with EM, including:
- Ancylostoma braziliense (cutaneous larval migrans)
- Canine parvovirus
- Anal sacculitis
- Pseudomonas spp-otitis externa
- Staphylococcal dermatitis.
- Food allergy
- Insecticides, e.g. d-limonene
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