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For worried pet owners, the most important thing in the face of a veterinary emergency is knowledgeable staff who are ready to help. Fortunately, the medical professionals at BluePearl wake up every day ready to save lives and go the extra mile for patients. This story illustrates the dedication and expertise of BluePearl Associates and the appreciation our clients express for the life-altering care we deliver as a team.

Dr. Tracey Rossi, a board-certified internal medicine veterinarian at BluePearl in Irvine, California, helped solve a medical anomaly that ended up saving a treasured pet’s life. Owners had taken their cat to another vet, who did not comprehensively treat a life-threatening case of cryptococcosis. Here’s how Dr. Rossi saved the day.

Dr. Tracey Rossi is an internal medicine specialist at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Irvine, California.

A case of cryptococcosis.

In September 2019, Stephanie’s indoor cat was diagnosed by a local veterinarian with cryptococcosis, a potentially fatal disease. Cryptococcosis affects the central nervous system and occurs when a cat inhales fungal spores that are commonly found in soil and is most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.

Symptoms of cryptococcosis include chronic nasal discharge that is thick, yellow, green and sometimes even bloody. Symptoms of cats affected by this disease include chronic sneezing, heavy breathing, nose wounds, swelling of the nose and masses in the nasal cavity. However, the illness can also be present with no symptoms, making it particularly challenging to recognize and treat.

Unless treated appropriately, cryptococcosis can penetrate a cat’s central nervous system and cause serious symptoms such as seizures, spinal pain and even sudden blindness. The infection also harms other organs in the body, and, if untreated, can be fatal. The most effective way to prevent the infection from worsening is early diagnosis and treatment, which is why being sure about a patient’s status is so critical.

Multiple different tests exist to diagnose the disease. Once an infection is confirmed, mild to moderate cases often require treatment for a period of four to nine months. However, in some cases, treatment is administered until symptoms are no longer present and test results come back negative. When treated quickly and comprehensively, cats tend to recover easily. But, if treatment is stopped or interrupted early, the disease can become a serious threat to a cat’s health.

Until February 2020, Stephanie’s cat continued taking fluconazole, a common medication used to treat the disease that was prescribed by her previous vet. Multiple tests for the cryptococcal antigen were administered, all of which came back negative. However, the story doesn’t end there.

Going the extra mile for patients.

Stephanie’s previous vet ended up moving out of state, which is when Dr. Rossi assumed care for her cat. The patient was showing no symptoms of infection, meaning there was no reason to question the validity of the previous test’s negative result. But knowing the potential for serious harm, Dr. Rossi wanted to be absolutely sure.

“It is worth noting some veterinarians would have automatically accepted the negative test as true and accurate, especially since my cat was not displaying any visible signs indicative of infection at that time,” stated Stephanie. “But not Dr. Rossi.”

Dr. Tracey Rossi is an internal medicine specialist at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Irvine, California.

Dr. Rossi’s intuition and medical expertise prompted her to question whether those tests were giving the full story. Dr. Rossi ordered a split serum test that was sent to a different lab than where the previous tests were processed. This confirmed that her hunch was right: Stephanie’s cat was indeed still infected with cryptococcosis and needed to continue use of the fluconazole medicine. Dr. Rossi’s expertise and quick action helped save this cat’s life and ensure the disease did not progress further.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my cat is alive and well due to the stellar medical expertise and professional skills of Dr. Rossi,” Stephanie shared. “Dr. Rossi is an exceptional veterinarian who is determined to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide the very best medical care to her patients. Indeed, she is a positive reflection on the quality of medical care provided by BluePearl.”

Veterinary care done right.

But, there’s still more to this story. The false negative tests highlighted the fact that there was a problem related to some of the cryptococcal antigen test kits the original lab used. This prompted Dr. Rossi to find a new lab specializing in diagnostic veterinary medicine to ensure accurate test results for her patients. The lab that had supplied the previous false negatives was alerted about the situation.

Stephanie is grateful that Dr. Rossi took the extra time to question the results and provide exceptional care. In a letter of appreciation to Dr. Rossi, Stephanie shared the following:

“I am extremely grateful that my cat is continuing to receive medical care from Dr. Rossi and from the internal medicine team at BluePearl in Irvine, California. BluePearl is truly fortunate to have Dr. Tracey Rossi as one of its veterinary specialists, and so am I, and so is my cat. She is an outstanding veterinarian who is deeply and passionately dedicated to the health and wellness of her patients!”

It is worth noting that this experience also prompted Stephanie to begin researching cryptococcosis in cats at a deeper level. Recently, her research was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery Open Reports in an article she authored about her experience with her cat’s cryptococcosis infection, false negative tests and life-saving treatment. She was so touched by her experience with Dr. Rossi, that she included a thank you to her in the acknowledgments.

BluePearl – your work here matters.

We’re thankful for Dr. Rossi and all of the amazing BluePearl Associates who power our hospitals across the nation. As you can see, a career in veterinary medicine allows you to put your problem-solving skills to work and do something that truly matters. If you are passionate about helping humans and animals, veterinary medicine is a fulfilling, rewarding career path.

At BluePearl, we give our Associates the training and resources needed to excel in their positions and to care for their health and well-being so they can thrive in their personal life.

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