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BLASTOMYCOSIS: notes for Pet Parents

Letter to the Editor

This is Ruby, our daughter’s 5-year-old Golden Retriever. She showed symptoms of BLASTOMYCOSIS and one week later she was gone! It happened so fast!

Days before, we had had our septic upgraded and had to install another tank. All that soil was dragged to the surface from 12’ down. Our daughter and Ruby and one year old Jojo (also a Golden) were raking the soil and tossing rocks off into the woods. That upturned soil is a primary source of this fungus.

BLASTOMYCOSIS can look just like aspiration pneumonia – as in inhaling lake water. This is fungus, not a bacterial or viral infection and it really likes lungs. Antibiotics will do no good. Blasto can show up as one skin lesion – or in any curious ways or behavior in your pet.

According to the notes our vet gave us, Blastomycosis can cause sudden blindness, lameness, testicle inflammation, seizures, coughing, enlarged lymph nodes and in many other ways. This should be the FIRST thing you ask your vet if your animal shows ANY unusual signs. Horses and cats can be victims of Blastomycosis.

Cough, fever, depression, weight loss, loss of appetite are the symptoms we saw.

Exposure can be 20-100 days before any symptoms appear. Please check with your vet. It is a blood test, a urinalysis, and a chest x-ray.

One article we read says that Minnesota and Wisconsin are “hot spots” right now. The state of Wisconsin has put up a website on which to report BLASTOMYCOSIS cases. Minnesota veterinarians report to the Minnesota  Department of Health. The latest report I could find was from 2014 showing Crow Wing and Cass Counties among the other counties north and east of us with the highest numbers of Blastomycosis cases reported in the state.

Nothing can be done to prevent it and dogs (and horses and cats) can become re-infected. It grows in decomposing organic matter and damp soil. Early recognition of BLASTO is key to survival! Please check with your vet!

We know of 3 other local dogs that have had blastomycosis. Two died. One survived. Our daughter’s one year old puppy immediately began treatment as soon as Ruby died and, at this time is doing well. Our 7-year-old dog, Cooper came down with the cough a week ago and tested positive for BLASTO (59 days after Ruby died). We are treating him now.

It can begin with a septic upgrade, as our case did. The culprit can be upturned earth. Conditions with the lack  of rain and the dust blowing around . . . But moving an old wood pile can expose animals to this fungus. This fungus is just everywhere!

Awareness will mean a lot. Spread the word!

Mikie Walker
Emily, MN
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