Chest X-ray from a dog with blastomycosis, (Photo from Univ. of Georgia Dept. of Anatomy and Radiology)
compiled from several sources
Two Missauke County dogs have died from the fungal infection Blastomycosis. The fungus is inhaled as dogs walk through forest litter. The organism responsible is a fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis.
Dogs and humans seem to be most susceptible, but cats and horses may also become infected. Since it depends upon exposure to the fungus, it is found only where the fungus grows. Cases are most often reported in the valleys of the major US rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio. It has also been documented in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.
The fungus requires wet, sandy, acidic soils rich in organic matter and in close proximity to water. Sadly, West Michigan sounds like a perfect location.
Large dog breeds, and most often males, are most likely to become infected. No reason for this disparity has been determined, although it may be simply due to the likelihood of those dogs roaming more.
Once a dog is infected, symptoms are diffuse, and only specific tests can determine if the problem is Blastomycosis. Watch for coughing, difficulty breathing, depression, skin lesions (like large pimples), and eye irritation. An exact diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian who is looking for this specific problem. Since it is rare in Michigan, vets may not be looking for it.
The treatment is usually large doses of Amphotericin B, which almost always causes some degree of kidney failure. An alternative is Itraconazole, also effective and safer, but more expensive.
Blastomycosis is a serious disease, and its appearance in Michigan, near Lake City, is not good news.
See Veterinary Clinical Pathology
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