Dogs Who Have Been Affected
Here are some stories I've received by e-mail. Many more stories can be found on our message board: Blastomycosis - Pets & Animals
Charlie (Glendale Heights, Illinois (North Eastern))
From our message board: Well, sad news. We had to put Charlie down last night at age 5. So young. Somehow he got a fungal spore infection known as CANINE BLASTOMYCOSIS, an extremely aggressive fungal infection and has a low survival rate.
About two weeks ago Charlie was coughing or hacking (kinda like a cat with a hair ball). After several days of hacking we took him to the vet. He was running a slight fever and they said his lungs and heart sounded good. At that time the vet wanted to do about $500.00 in testes, but I felt that was overkill. I know now it probably would not have helped if we found this a week sooner. We decided to put him on antibiotics. About 3 days later he seemed to be doing better and was not hacking anymore. About 3 days ago he began to insistently breath heavy, I thought this was due to me cutting one of his nails to short and he was just stressed.
Yesterday, I was watching him closely and he was breathing or panting non stop and would appear to go into his own world and on occasion would nearly fall over. After seeing this I took him back to the Vet. He had lost 3 pounds in the last two weeks! We left Charlie with the Vet to have a series of tests and x-rays. One hour later the Vet called and asked that we come over and speak with him personally. The news was horrible. His lungs had filled up with the yeast form of the fungus and probably infected the rest of his body. The treatment at this stage was a 5-10 day hospital stay and up to $15,000.00 plus another 6 months of treatment. The survival rate after 2-3 days was below 20%. We then took him to an emergency hospital to get a second opinion. Our worst fears came true. He had advanced stage of this disease and was likely he would not make it the next 1 - 2 days. He only had about 10% of lung functioning and his oxygen level was below 70%, which explains why he was panting so heavy and nearly passing out. We had to put him on oxygen until my wife could stop by and say good-bye.
With this grim news I did not want him to come home so that we could watch him die in the next day or so, suffering a horrid death of suffixation. I just did not want my 10 year old daughter to see him struggle to take his last breaths.
I was with him to the end. As I believe being the one to make the decision to end his life I should be with him instead of sending him with a stranger in a cold dark room. I am truly shocked that such a vibrant and health dog in his prime of life had deteriorated so quickly.
I am totally in shock. Two weeks ago he was running around like a jack rabbit full of life. I just can not think of where he could have been to contract this horrible fungus. Is it possible it's in the house somewhere? I have his x-rays if anyone would like to see them. His lungs looked like someone filled a cup up with activated yeast and splattered it all over his lungs.
Totally bummed out.
Charlie's owner, Bob, shared a photo, two videos, and Charlie's x-rays with us. The photo above is of Charilie 8 months before his death. This video(.wmv) is when Bob first noticed his coughing and hacking. This video(.wmv) is two weeks later and the same day Charlie had to be put down.
Sadie, a Redbone coonhound - possible Blastomycosis (Ontario, Canada)
My hubby and I have a 1.5 year old redbone coonhound named Sadie. We line in southern Ontario but own property on the French River in northern Ontario and spend much of the summer there. The property has a large beaver dam and lodges where our dogs spend time running across the dam with their noses to the ground of course.
On Nov 1st Sadie was lethargic and seemed a bit stiff with little interest in food so we took her to our veterinarian the next day. She had a fever of ~40C, was becoming weaker & had mild edema in rear legs. Over the next 2.5 weeks we went through three different antibiotics with no success. (penicillin, Doxycyline, etc.) Bufferin for fever, 4 days of sub-Q fluids for dehydration. X-rays showed nothing remarkable. Blood work showed increased white blood cells but not extremely high, mild anemia, slightly increased liver enzymes but nothing else remarkable. Nothing would take the fever down and I thought we might lose her through the night on Nov 19th. That weekend we noticed a lump growing on her ribs and took her back to the vet. The lump was painful to touch. He did x-rays again, a fine needle aspiration showed nothing interesting but red and white blood cells. Chest X-ray showed a mass that appeared to be in the connective tissue between the ribs and not attached to any organs. The rib bones did not appear to be compromised. Lungs appeared normal. A sample was sent for Biopsy and came back as positive for osteosarcoma. I had been doing a lot of internet research and because the symptoms didn't make a lot of sense for bone cancer we decided to try her on an antifungal medication for Blastomycosis while we waited for the biopsy results. 3 days on Itraconazole and she showed a marked improvement. She is also taking a non-steroid anti-inflammatory for pain and to help with the fever. Fever still 39.6 or so after a week but her strength is returning. The lump is no longer painful and has not grown nor shrunk. I wouldn't say she is recovered but she sure seems better than a week before. We tried to get in touch with the lab and have them look for fungal causes when they did the cytology and biopsy but I don't think it was communicated to them in time. Being in Southern Ontario our vet has never seen Blastomycosis and has only heard of it in school years ago. The lab was not looking for it when they did the testing and I am not sure they have even seen it before. We considered sending another sample but at this point I'm not sure if the spores would show up in a test since she has been on medication for 2 weeks.
I would expect that if she had Bone Cancer that she would not be feeling better and the lump on her ribs would be painful and growing. She did not experience the typical respiratory symptoms seen in Basto but from what I have read the respiratory symptoms are not always present. (~70%) I have also read that osteolytic bone lesions are common (30%) and can be misdiagnosed as cancer.
Right now our course of action is to continue the itraconazole as long as it is working. We buy one months dose at a time. Her fever is at high normal today for the first time in 4 weeks (39.1) and her energy is returning very slowly. I was just wondering what your experience is with recovery time and if the lump would shrink over time if this is Blasto.
We have not officially been diagnosed with Blasto but our vet and I both agree that if she continues to improve then it is very likely. I would like to know for sure but I am worried that tests might show false negatives. We are hoping for the best.
I Thank you and people like you for posting information like this ... If not for all of the internet resources I believe that Sadie would have been put down by now due to the possibly false cancer diagnosis.
Thanks for your time
Mary and John B.
Lisa's Chocolate Lab Cocoa ()
Our 8 year old chocolate lab has just been diagnosed with blasto maybe. This all started at the end of November when we were babysitting for another lab. Actually the grandchild of cocoa. The dogs played quite a bit and I noticed that Cocoa was limping on her right leg. Concerned but not overly worried at this point. Figured she pulled a muscle playing. Watched her and she seemed to get better in a week. Towards the end of the second week she started limping again. At 3am I woke up to her crying. She would not get up. My heart was crushed, feeling very guilty for not taking her in to get her leg checked. The next morning we were in to the vet. He took x-rays of both her legs and hips. The x-rays showed hip displagia, which we already knew, and her right knee x-ray did not look normal. The Vets first thought was bone cancer with a slim chance of it being an infection in her knee. Cocoa was put on two antibiotics and the x-rays were sent to the Veterinary school for a final interpretation. Within a couple of days the Vet called with the report. Bone ca was the probable diagnosis. Many options were given from chemo to leg amputation to once again a slim chance that it could be osteomylitis in her knee. At this point we were willing to try anything, so we chose to treat the osteomylitis. The antibiotics cocoa was on was not effective for this so I ran to the vet to get a different antibiotic. This was on a Saturday. On Monday, Cocoa would not put any weight on her leg at all and I could tell that she was in pain. Rushed to the Vet again. Poor prognosis this time. The Vet was sure it was bone ca and told us that we should consider putting her to sleep by the end of the week. Christmas was in a couple of days. I asked the Vet for some more pain medication (Rimadyl) to get her through the holidays. On Tuesday morning Cocoa was almost like her old self. She got up, went outside and did her usual walk. Each day she improved. By the end of the antibiotics, I called the Vet to have her blood work checked again. (we had blood work done at the first visit) I wanted to make sure that we are treating her long enough if she had in infection. Her white count was still up and she was alittle anemic. I requested her to be tested for lymes disease also and mentioned blasto. We were grasping at anything to make sure nothing was missed. Bone ca doesnt get better with antibiotics and a repeat x-ray of her leg did not show any improvement. The Vet did the lymes disease but did not do the blasto test. Cocoa did not have the symptoms of blasto. Through out all this Cocoa was losing weight. Difficult to get her to eat. We were sent home with another stretch of antibiotics. Lymes was neg. For the next 2 weeks Cocoa did not seem to be bothered by her leg, but she started coughing, more like a choking sound. At times she would have labored breathing. Back to the Vet. This time blood was taken for the blasto test. Our vet can not run the test so it would have to be sent out. This past week the results came back negative. Now what? Cocoa is still coughing, decreased appetite and lethargic. This past Friday Cocoa did not want to move. Her breathing was labored. I took her temp which was 102. Not alarming for a dog. In the afternoon she improved. Yesterday morning she would not eat at all. I managed to get a couple bites of her favorite food in her and that was it. 10 min later she vomited it back up. Called the Vet and Cocoa and I were on our way. Chest x-ray was next. The chest x-ray showed a huge mass on her right lung covering about 3/4. There were also some small lesions noted. What are our choices now? Cocoa either has lung ca or very advanced blasto. Options of a lung biopsy, a laryngogeal wash (not exactly sure thats right) or we could start treating her for blasto. I opted to start treating her for blasto. If Cocoa did have blasto, we're already behind on treatment so skip the other tests and lets get her what she needs. Cost?! The Vet wrote out a script and said now this is not cheap. He wrote the script for 5 days worth and was going to get in contact with a pharmacy in Arizona for the rest. Off to fill the script. Cheapest I found was at Walmart. 15 pills for $128.00. Ouch! While I'm running around the rest of the family is searching the internet trying to find it cheaper. Canada has a good price of $2.00 per pill but it takes 10-14 days. We don't have that kind of time. The Vet found RoadRunner Pharmacy out of Phoenix that will be calling us on Monday. They ship overnight. Today Cocoa seems to be better. She is being treated like a Queen, Cheeseburgers, bread, whatever she wants to eat as long as she eats! I hope we pull through this. When talking to the Vet he stated it's very rare for the symptoms to start in joints first but he has seen it. I will keep you posted. If she improves, my advice is to rule out everything before giving up even if it doesn't present typical. Please share my story.
We lost our Cocoa today. She had been on the medication for Blasto 10 days today. After being on the medication for 5 days I noticed her becoming bloated. I thought maybe she was becoming constipated from the medication and her diet was not exactly for a dog. Her condition did not seem to change other than the bloating. She was still eating, although I hand fed her three times a day and then some. We had so much hope as I had spoke to someone who's pet made it through with the same symptoms as Cocoa. I called the Vet on Saturday and was to watch her over the weekend to see if any improvement. This morning I noticed that her back legs and feet were very swollen. She was having a very difficult time breathing. In my heart I knew that I may not be bringing her home from the vet today. Cocoa had gained 15# in 10 days. One of the side effects of the blasto medication is liver failure. Even in people. Unfortunately today I had no other choice but to not let her suffer anymore. There wasn't any other medication I could give her. I miss her so much. I'm going to forward to you a web site I received. It will make you cry, but we need that. I hope that with your web site you will help and be there for others as you were for me just to listen.
Robin's Labrador Retriever Remington (Oakley, Illinois)
Here's my story about our Lab named Remington. It all started in November 2006. He went from a happy 2 1/2 year old to a very sick dog. We noticed around the first of November that he was lumping on one leg. Really did think to much about it thought he had caught it on the fence. Then he acted like it was broke and then like it wasn't even there. I took him in on Vetran's Day to the Vet. They X-rayed his leg and couldn't find anything wrong with it. So the next step was blood work. They sent it to the U of I and it came back Blastomycosis. We almost lost him at the vet but they got him started on meds after a week of being there. He started to come around and after 14 days at the vet he came home. The Blastomycosis had caused him to go blind but we still had our dog and thats all that mattered at the time. He was not the same dog tho he wouldn't play, he wouldn't bark, he pretty much didn't do anything but sleep and eat. Our other dog which is his sister didn't get this. They are in the same pen, same dog house, they use to do everything together. I just don't understand why one got it and the other didn't. Remington was on medicine to around the middle of January and the Vet decided to take him off to see how he would do. I thought he was doing pretty good for a blind dog but he started going backwards on Friday which was February 23, 2007. He couldn't find his dog house without one of us helping him. He was having a hard time just standing up. So on Monday February 26 we made the decision to put him down. I just couldn't watch him suffer anymore. We watch over our other dog like a hawk but so far she has showed no signs of this nasty disease. I have also decided that we had 2 Rottweilers that also had this disease. I am so SORRY for anyone that has a pet that has to go threw this. I kind of worry about myself. I love working in my flower beds and I'm afraid too. We are from Oakley, Il. just outside of Decaur. Thanks for letting me tell my story. Robin B.
Kristens's dog "Brandon" (Nashville, Tennessee)
I found your website researching the internet when my dog was diagnosed with it 3 weeks ago. His name is Brandon and he is a beautiful, sweet-tempered Great Pyrenees that is only 1-2 years old (he was a rescue) and is the best dog we've ever had. We put 40-50 lbs on him and took him everywhere only to have him be diagnosed with this terrible infection and we are crushed.
My heart was broken this morning to learn that dogs with eye involvement usually mean CNS involvement and they have the worst prognosis. It's been 3 weeks though and it looks like we will remove one eye but other than that he is eating well (fabulous actually), seems to be adjusting well to being blind and seems to be really enjoying the extra attention/food. You've must get emails from so many people, have you heard of dogs surviving with eye involvement? It seems like the worst is over as at one point he clearly had bone involvement but his limp has gone away and he's “patrolling” his yard again. I guess what I'm asking is have you heard of dogs doing this well only to end up dying anyway? I'm trying to determine if there is a point where he will be safely out of the woods. She seemed so grim when she talked to me this morning.
Thanks and I really appreciated the website. It had so much information that was really helpful. I think my vet is afraid to tell me some things.
Yes, you may use his story. He's been on fluconazole for 11/2 months now. It took about a week to diagnose him and the first time he was x-rayed there was only 1 minor spot so they aspirated his lungs. By the time he was x-rayed again there was a diffuse but significant pattern in his lungs. They removed his left eye last Friday. When they did that they also x-rayed him again and said there was a significant improvement in his lungs. It appears as if we may be able to save the other eye and he has regained some sight which is very exciting because he was blind in both eyes for several weeks. He's such a happy, wonderful guy and truly the best dog we've ever had. Even in pain from the surgery, or during the painful glaucoma he never complained or got aggressive about receiving his medicine or eye drops. He just stood there trusting and loving us. Though the first 2 weeks he was clearly not himself, his appetite was always good and he has been a little playful on occasion. The real turning point was when he wanted to sleep outside at night and guard the backyard from deer and stray cats. And always, always, even at his sickest I would grab the chain and he would rush out the front door to come with me to the farm where my horse is boarded (and the little girls make a huge fuss over him). Our fingers are crossed for his continued improvement. Some of the techs at my vet clinic mentioned at least 1 other recent case they knew of in this area and a friend stated her mother actually saw a news story on it a few months ago.
That's my update for now! I'll keep you posted on his recovery!
Lucy's dog Marty (Nashville, Tennessee)
I AM IN NASHVILLE TN AND JUST LOST MARTY, A 2 YR OLD SPANIEL MIX WITH BLASTO. SHE HAD SKIN LESIONS AND DEVELOPED RESPIRATORY DISTRESS. SHE HAD ONLY BEEN ON TREATMENT ONE DAY.
Chris's Weimaraner Daxx (Bloomington, Illinois)
About a month ago my 3 1/2 year old weimaraner named Daxx was not eating and sleeping all the time. I knew something was wrong so i took him to the vet. Daxx was tested for Blasto via 2 chest x-rays and by just looking into his eyes, feeling his lymph nodes, etc. The vet said he did not have it and prescribed him prednisone for bronchitis. About a week later i went home for thanksgiving and noticed Daxx was feeling bad again. I reached down and felt very swollen lymph nodes near his throat. At this point i had read info. on blasto just in case, so i kinda knew what to look for. I took him to a clinic and they took an aspirate of his lymph nodes and sure enough, positive for blastomycosis. They did a chest x-ray and it was EVERYWHERE. This was terrible news, Daxx is like my son. The prednisone that the first vet prescibed him shut down his immune system and allowed the fungus to spread rapidly. We immediately started him on 200mg of intraconazole per day. Currently Daxx seems to be doing better although the vet thinks he will go completely blind in one eye. I am well aware that it takes forever to treat this disease and that he could go downhill at anytime. I feel like one of the lucky owners of a dog with blasto because I'm in a band which allows me to be with him all day, and my girlfriend watches him at night. We constantly monitor his breathing and give him steam showers and massages 2-3 times a day. Another thing we do is make sure he's not sleeping on his side. I put two pillows on both sides of him and kinda wedge them under his sides to keep him laying on his belly. This seems to help him breathe better. Daxx is eating, wagging his tail, and occasionally barking out the window. When i first heard the diagnosis I was sure I would have to put him down right away but we're doing everything we can for him at this point. I'm optimistic but at the same time fully aware of the possibility of having to let him go if he gets bad. I pray every night for other dogs and their owners who have had to deal with this terrible disease.
p.s. Daxx was the second dog that was misdiagnosed at Town and Country Animal Hospital in Normal, IL. So far I have heard of at least 15 cases in this town over the past 2 months. I don't know any of the statistics of survival.
Robin's dog (near Cincinnati, Ohio)
My one yr old jack russel just passed from Blasto mycosis Lisa, I would like to know if you know if there is any department I can contact to have my topsoil and mulch tested for the fungus because that is the only place I could imagine he could have gotten thid terrable diease from we did some landscaping last year and patches like to dig in fresh mulch. I am afraid that is where the fungus is and if so I want to remove all of this mulch. I am afraid to get another dog because of what patches went through it was awful he had leasion on the head it was in his left eye and a large tumor like on the back of his right leg and could not even walk at the end. We loved him very much and miss him so much any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated. We live 35 miles east of cincinnati ohio and are not near any lakes or rivers.
Thank You, Robin Hunter
you can use my name and letter on your site if you wish I would like to know more about this diease! I miss my friend.
Dear Lisa There has been three other dogs diagnoised with Blasto at my vets office since my dogs passing just two weeks ago is this common or should we be concerned about the area. Just wanted to ask what you thought. Thank You, Robin
Lisa's dog Beau (Central Ohio)
Hi! My name is Lisa Marr and my 2 year old collie/australian cattle dog mix has been sick for a month --Just two days ago he was started on Itraconazole and just yesterday his biopsy came back confirming Blasto. Last night I had trouble sleeping listening to his rapid,shallow breathing...I envisioned having to rush him off to the vet hospital. But today he seems cheerful and comfortable despite a rapid breathing rate. And thank goodness, he is eating and drinking ok.
It has already been a long process...We returned from a 10 day canoe trip (that Beau went on ,too) in Quetico National park (southern ontario) in late august. Shortly thereafter, I noticed he just didn't have his usual energy..whereas normally he rollerblades with me for 4 miles --running fast-- now he was resisting heading onto the bike path, or turning around after 1/2 mile, or just laying down and panting. he seemed to need to drink a lot of water when exercising, and if I let him drink, rest, and catch his breath, he was eager to continue on.
I thought maybe he was overheating in the hot summer weather, although his coat is short. I wondered , too, if he had gotten deconditioned. So I tried exercising him very regularly, hoping to slowely build up...
Then one tuesday he did tthis gagging thing, like a dry heave. i latter learned this is considered a cough. That week he gradually went off his food and by Sunday rally wasn't even drinking much at all. At first, I thought he was being picky, as I had started doing some serious trick/heeling training with pieces of hot dog and cheese as treats --I thought maybe he was holding out for more. But the "coughing " got worse. No vomiting, no diarrhea, but of such sad looking an expression.
Monday they squeezed him in at the vet. I worried that maybe a piece of bone was stuck in his diagestive system. Xrays showed a large, mass-like pneumonia. The vet doubted it was cancer in such a young dog. He was dehydrated and lethargic and spent 3 days at the vet hospital, getting fluids, breathing treatments, injected antiobiotics and oral antibiotics. They said he really didn't cough much at all.
The radiologist reading was aspiration pneumonia, can't rule out foreign body. he came home after 3 days on an oral antiobiotic. I pounded him (coupage) 3 times a day, and I gave him 3 saline nebs a day.
At follow up (now day 10 from start of hospitalization) , the x ray hadn't changed much. He was limping on his front foot that the IV had been in, and had these lumps--one on an ear, one under an eye, one under his chin, one on his cheek -- and a little crusty sore on his side. On his lame let, his 4th toe was tender, but there was nothing visibly wrong.
Day 13 and 14, his toe swelled massively and got a fluid collection that started draining. He still wasn't eating much unless I gave him broth, meat, or wet dog food.' day 15, I called and got him seen again. His toe was xrayed, and his antibiotic was switched from Keflex to Antrirobe, and an antiinflammatory was added (duramax). the vet thought he had worried his toe with licking, creating the lesion. Other lumps were thought to be inflammed follicles. There was no thought that his skin problems were related to his lung issue. His temp at that visit was 103.7. he was given a lampshade to wear. I asked for a lyme titre (it came back days later as negative --we had spent 9 days on an island off cape cod --tuckernuck -- which has a very high incidence of lyme disease in its ticks, and we foung one on his eyelid that I thought was a skin tag--it was on several days)
He perked up the several days after that...He even ate straight dry food for several days, and we wenton a couple short walks (1-1and 1/3 mile)on days he didn't limp much. I thought maybe the change in antibiotic helped. But the sores got worse, and his toe really didn't show any improvement --if anything, it began to look an ugly purple. By now, his ear had a 1 cm ball at the tip, which dripped blood and also looked crusty-purplish. It felt fluid filled but wasn't..
Day 24 he got seen again for follow up. He hadn't coughed for about 2 weeks, but he was still very low-energy and sad looking. He starte needed encouragement to eat. His antiinflammatory had finished on day 20, too. He was unhappy. The vet now took the lesions seriously -- she biopsied his chin. I was to finist the 10 days of antirobe, then start the keflex for another 2 weeks. After I left the office, I got a call that they wanted to do a wound bacterial culture and send blood for a fungal titre. I initially said yes.
That night, I did homework on the internet, and became convinced that he had blasto. I read that fungal titres were fairly useless and at $170 decided to cancel it. I also cancelled the $80 bacterial wound culture. I knew we'd need the money for the sporanox (itraconazole).
I work in a anatomy/physiology lab at a college, and on day 25 made up slides of the drainage from 3 of his skin wounds. I stained them with methylene blue and spent a long time studying them. I had printouts of slided from the web to compare to. I was confident I saw budding yeast, and a microbiology professor agreed with my assessment.
I called my vet. She was concerned that I had cancelled the tests. She said even if I saw yeast, it didn't mean that was the cause -- that it could just be skin yeast. I asked if we could start antifungals while we waited for the biopsy results, but she said they had side effects and that he had shown improvement and we could wait several days. i asked her to send out my slide (ultimately, I got the message that the "cytology" was negative , but I am not sure whether a hematologist looked at it looking for cancerous cells or a pathologist looked at it without getting any history..)
The next day (day 26), I got Beau in with my regular vet. Due to the severity initially, he was seen by a vet at the sister practice, which has the 24 hr hospital there. I had been asked to follow up with the vet who admitted him initially. But on day 24, the tech had told me that my next follow up could be at the other office if I wished.
Well, I really wanted a second opinion. I was concerned just waiting. My vet agreed that blasto was most likely, and rxed a 6d of itraconaxole ($134). I explained that I didn't want to wait and risk the infection going into his eye, bones or brain...We talked about what an unusual diagnosis and presentation this was...that night I got the message that the "cytology was negative" and at 8:45 saturday morning (yesrday, day 27), the original vet called saying the biopsy showed Blasto. I told her my regular vet had drawn liver tests and rxed sporanox the day prior and thanked her for helping us this past month. Neither vet had seen blasto before.
So here we are today. I ordered meds (brand ) from canada last night (120 tablets of 100mg for $275), but need to fax the script tomorrow, and they say it may be 3-4 wks until we get it!! So we may be looking at another $400-500 for local generics while we wait... It has been an expensive month -- about $2,000 to date -- and I know we're looking at 2-6 months more...I am hoping so much that he will recover!! I figure the fact that he lived these 26 days untreated is a good sign??
We adopted (rescued) Beau last November 29th from a shelter where he'd been for 5 wks...we only know that his original owner thought he was too hyper and chewed a lot. He had vet fear and would snap at the vet, but has improved greatly. He didn't know how to interact with other dogs, but kknow has close doggy friends. We took him canoeing on the little miami river in western ohio for 3 days last memorial day. We live w/in 1/4 mile of a reservoir, which has a nice bathtub line of silty mud around it during the low water of summer --we have taken him walkingalong the edge and swimming there. And then there was the 10 days canoeing in the quetico wilderness, where he once encountered a moose and we say lots of beaver dams...we were on the water or the lates edges the whole time...Plus, we have some groundhog holes in our back woods that I have seen him paw at....So we don't know where he picked it up...I wish I could remember when I first noticed his heavy panting exercising...
Last year, our first dog was hit by a car and killed on November 19th. She and I had been home a month after hiking together on the northern Appalachian trail for 340 miles --she was my buddy. I know the first weeks on the itraconazole can cause the illness to worsen and I am so worried. I can't bear the thought of losing our Beau!!
I had hoped to hear success stories, so this site makes me sad. My dog obedience teacher had a friend whose Golden got blasto 7-8 years back and pulled through after a long convalescence...I am keeping my fingers crossed.
I'll send updates. You may share beau's story, and hopefully I'll get some pictures to email.
Lisa Marr, central ohio
Jeff's dog Gunner (New Prague, Minnesota)
I found your site 6 days ago, when my vet told me that my lab, Gunner, might have blasto. He did not know for sure but had to run some more tests, get a sample from his trachea and send it to the U of Minnesota to be sure of the results. 4 days ago, blasto was confirmed, I felt like I was kicked in the stomach, not just because of the disease but also due to the cost of treatment. Somebody told me that Costco had drugs pretty cheap and to try them, the cost was $817 for 100 100mg tablets. Gunner needed to have a1000mg a day for the first 3 days and then 500mg a day until treatment was done. After scrambling and calling pharmacies, checking online, my vet gave me a name and number of Brook who's dog had blasto. Luckily, Brook also gave me the information for RoadRunner pharmacy, who has the meds for much cheaper (100 tablets of 250mg for $258). Gunner's treatment started 3 days ago.
This morning I found my best friend on his bed, he had passed away in the night. I have spent most of the day crying, thinking of him, reliving all the wonderful moments that I got to share with him. I am grateful that he was part of my life for 8 1/2 years, I shall miss him terribly. My wife's lab, Dakota, has not left my side and knows how bad I feel.
A friend sent me an email with the poem Rainbow Bridge, I know that Gunner is in a better place and is waiting for me. Our reunion is years away, but I will always look forward to being with him again. Right now he gets to run over sunny hills and play while he waits.
Gunner, I love you, I was so lucky to have you in my life. Till we meet again.
New Prague, MN
Mary's dog Maddi
Well I found out yesterday my dog Maddi, who is a 3 year old Golden Retriever, has blasto and even though I am a Public Health nurse I was lost. So I also did much reading and i guess at this point I am quite lucky because my dog has no coughing. My husband was playing with her last week Wed.and noticed a swollen gum. We watched it for 2 days and then took her into the vet thinking she got something caught under her gum. The docter found an enlarge lymph node in her back leg and biopsied it. I of couse am thinking who cares about the lymph node take care of her gum which is starting to get stinkey. She then explained the lymph node could be cancerous. When a 2nd vet came in they said the sample looked like Blasto and they sampled her gum lesion also. They said if the samples came back positive from the state lab they would do a chest X-ray. This is Fri. OnSunday the vet called and confirmed Blasto and started her on Sporanox . She is fine except for a sore mouth so say a prayer she sees improvement. My vet just diagnosed her dog 2 weeks ago with blasto. I really am confused were my dog got it. Possibly the woods near our home which occassionally when we walk I allow her to be unleashed. Today by chance our health dept decided to do an article in our local paper which comes out 4 times a year about blasto due to several calls from people whos dogs have developed Blasto recently in the suburb I live in. After I spoke to her about my dog she decided to put an article in the weekly paper to advise pet owners what to watch for to try and catch it early. The difficult part is the costof tests and medication with the possibility of reoccurence. My vet told me of one lady who could not afford the treatment so she had to euthanize her dog. It is so sad. Shame on the drug cpompanies for making it so difficult. Well thats my story of my beautiful Golden. Thanks for listening!!
Carolyn's dog Melly (Central Indiana)
I was so sorry to read about the loss of your Surf. I found your website, as I'm sure most do, while doing research after my dog had been diagnosed with this horrible disease. I had never even heard of Blasto before this Monday. Our little dog Melly is a mix between a golden retriever and a beagle. She's a sweet little dog, who unfortunately loves to dig for moles. Her nose was almost always covered with dirt, and we would tell her what a good girl she was when she caught one. I can't believe that her love of rooting for moles may cause her death.
Melly had the little cough you mentioned for about a week. I too assumed it was kennel cough, but on Friday she began to limp. By Sunday morning she would hardly walk at all. We got her to the vet on Monday and he suspected Blasto right away. He gave her a chest x-ray, but it was clear, so he tested her for Lyme disease and heartworms. When all the tests were negative, he prescribed a general antibiotic, but told us to call if she hadn't improved in 24 hours. She did not improve and actually seemed to be worse, so she went back to the vet Wednesday morning. She's still there and the vet said he will likely keep her for at least 5 more days. I got an update today, but no real positive news. The vet does seem optimistic, since it hadn't got to her eyes or nervous system yet. We are holding out hope that she will pull through. The vet did say that she is the sixth case he has seen this year, when they normally see one. I am shocked that we don't hear more about such a killer. I have been telling everyone I can about this and would like to thank you for getting the word out. Feel free to use my name and location.
Sincerely, Carolyn T.
Sadly, Melly has also become a victim to Blastomycosis. Our thoughts are with Carolyn.
Tina's dog Shelby (Harrodsburg, Kentucky)
Today is day 7. And I am honestly surprised to be still hanging on.
I am a divorced mother of two boys, ages 6 and 8. We live in Harrodsburg Kentucky on a rural farm. Up until 7 days ago our five year old golden retriever, Shelby, had been the picture of a healthy happy outdoor dog. We had some thunder storms come into town on that Thursday that lasted until Saturday night and as every golden owner knows, she wasn't very happy. I did noticed on Thursday that she wasn't eating. The neighbors however have a golden also and sometimes Shelby will eat with her, so I didn't think much about it. However, on Sunday the coughing started and the labored breathing. I immediately called the vet who meet us at the office. Her temp was over 105 and she was badly dehydrated. After some basic blood tests, the vet suspected blasto and did a chest x-ray on Monday morning finding the "snowy" tell-tell signs. We started the medication on Tuesday.
I was stunned! How could I not know about a disease this threatening? I was completely oblivious to blasto. Oh course, the first thing I do is get on the internet and find your web site. Thank you so much. It was wonderful to find all the information in one place. But, it was also heartbreaking to read the stories about all the others who have lost family members (I consider Shelby a big part of my family) to this horrible disease. My heart goes out to each of you.
And today is day 7. And I am honestly surprised to be still hanging on. We brought Shelby home yesterday afternoon. She was so excited and happy! But when I went to force-feed her (yes, I have to literally put the food in her mouth) she couldn't even raise her head. Her eyes had sunk into her skull and I just knew she was dying. If it hadn't been for her desperately labored breathing, I would have thought she had already died. So me and my boys did the only thing we knew to do... we cried and prayed... and cried some more. I got up every hour thru the night to check on Shelby and by this morning she was doing considerably better. By no means am I feeling confident or re-assured, but I still have hope. Unfortunately there is another dog, a beagle, who was brought into the vet after Shelby and also has blasto. I don't think it is doing as well as Shelby.
Again, I thank you so much for this web site and I will keep you posted on how my girl does.
Sadly, Shelby didn't survive the treatment. My sympathy to Tina and her young boys.
Deb's dog Molly (Southwestern Ontario)
It has been one year since we had to put our 8 1/2 yr old Bichon down. Last year at the beginning of May, I noticed that Molly's right eye was quite inflamed and draining. I called the vet that morning and made an appointment for after work. When I got home, she had rubbed the side of her head on the doorway and I noticed a large amt of bloody discharge. Thinking it was likely an abscess behind her eye (I'm a nurse and this was my diagnosis) - I went to the vet appt expecting to get antibiotics for this infection. I got the antibiotics but 2 days later, after Molly had laid around doing very little, I noticed that she had a lesion on her chest. Being a Sunday, we went off to the emergency vet in the area where they found her temperature to be over 40 degrees C, several other lesions hiding in her fur and her lymph nodes in her groins to be swollen. Molly spent the night in emergency. with IV antibiotics and prednisone, without the vet really knowing what she was dealing with. We transported her on Monday morning to our own vet, who was also puzzled as to what was happening. Molly spent a week at the vets -on IV fluid, prednisone and antibiotics - she seemed to rally around a little, however had several very large open lesions which were draining serosanguinous fluid. We took Molly home on the Friday - her breathing became extremely poor, shallow and quite laboured - we felt certain that we were losing her. My sister in law, also a nurse, noticed a warning on the CBC network to cottagers who were opening their cottages to beware of Blastomycosis. My sister in law looked up this disease, and called me immediately. We contacted our vet as the symptoms which she read were exactly what Molly was suffering. At our request, Molly was started on Itracanozole in combination with prednisone. After a few weeks, Molly seemed to be almost back to her old self. Her appetite improved, the lesions disappeared, her lymph nodes reduced significantly in size. She was on this med for 6 weeks despite our vet not being fully convinced that this was what she had. We had a blood test that came back neg. for blasto, but from the reading I did, it is not unusual for there to be a false positive. We slowly began weaning her off the medication, however, it came back in full force. By the end of July, her fever returned, the lymph nodes enlarged, she became depressed and listless. Although the lesions never returned, he hair fell out - likely a side effect of Prednisone, and our hearts were broken. Molly was unable to recover from this. Her fever raged, chest filled with fluid, and my father, who was caring for her while we tried to get away for a few days, took her to the local vet in Stratford. This vet advised that Molly was suffering greatly, her lungs were full of fluid and she was dying. That night, my dad made a very difficult decision to have Molly put to sleep. It was a decision that I had put off for so long.
Despite us never getting a definitive answer to this being blastomycosis, we truly believe that this is what our dog had. We deduced that she may have contracted this on Easter Weekend, when she was digging in the soil behind my mother and father's shed in Stratford. Our vet advised that she had not heard of any incidences in Southwestern Ontario, however, articles that I have read indicated that it had been found in the Great Lakes areas.
If you have any information that you would like to share or ask me about, I would be please to discuss with you further. We have since acquired a gorgeous black Goldendoodle who is more than a handful, but the memory of Molly will be in our hearts forever.
Robins's dog Jerry Lee (Schaumburg, Illinois)
My name is Robin W and I live in Schaumburg Illinois US. My dog Jerry Lee is a beautiful Golden Retriever and is much loved by all members of my family but is especially precious to me. For the last 3-4 days (this was last week 8/29/06) he was just not himself. Not too hungry (very unusual for him), sleepy, started gagging a little bit like something was caught in his throat and panting a lot even though it was not very hot out. He also had what I thought was an infected bee sting next to his nose. I told myself that if I didn't see a change for the better by Friday I would take him in but instead I did not wait and took him in Thursday evening 8/31/06. They took his temperature, looked at his nose (took a scraping), felt around, took a lung x-ray and some blood.
The ER doctor was pretty sure it was Blasto because his x-ray showed the snowstorm you speak of. All of this really through me for a loop since I had never heard of it. We had to wait for the cytology report to confirm which finally came back positive. He was prescribed Intraconazole 2x a day (for 90 days) and prednisone (for 10 days). He also has eye drop 3x a day because it has affected his eyes also. I have been enticing him to eat with whatever he wants, they say the medication works better if they eat. I was told that without the medication he would die for sure and with it the first 5-10 days would be critical. We are only on day two with the medication so far and I pray that it works. I will be devastated if it does not but know I need to face the fact that it is a possibility that I may have to deal with the loss of Jerry Lee like you did with your Surf. Just writing to you helps just knowing other people have had to deal with this dreadful sickness. My vet said that something is going on because last year they only had one case all year and just since summer started this year they have had six cases. Unbelievable! Well, thank you for your time and your website was wonderful and very informative. I will keep you updated if you do not mind. Hopefully my story will help other people as well.
Terri's dog Lucky (Cumberland, Indiana & Corydon, Indiana)
Sorry to hear of your loss. I have just found out that my 9 1/2 yr old German Shepherd "Lucky" has also been diagnosed with that disease besides ehlichia tick disease. It has taken us 1 1/2 years to figure out what was wrong with her. She now has the disease in her right eye and also in her left front leg (bone) besides the lungs etc. I do not know for sure where she got it but probably in Corydon, Indiana where I now live but at a different residence. I used to live with my boyfriend 3 years ago on 30 acres of woods and a creek. All my dogs liked to run on it and dig in the dirt trying to get the moles. I also have a shepherd mix (Heidi) that has the early symptoms similar to "Lucky". I will need to get her tested for that too. Out of owning 6 dogs, I have 3 who are ill. We also have a major tick disease problem here too, so I have to keep frontline on my dogs year round every 3-4 weeks. It is very heartbreaking to learn more about this disease and see my dog getting worse. I am starting on the new medicine next week, and hope that she can handle it ok. She already went into kidney failure 2 years ago after having knee surgery but did recoup from that. I work in a veterinary hospital and this is the first dog that I have ever heard of being diagnosed with that disease. We all thought (including the internal specialists) that she had something else. I was advised to get a tracheal wash done earlier this year but did not have the money to get it done at the specialists. It is all very expensive and I do not make a lot of money. I am starting a 2nd job just so I can pay for all the new medicines and tests needed for my dogs. All of my dogs are rescued including my cats too. Good luck to you all and I will keep in touch. God bless everyone! Terri W.
UPDATE: I found out that there are two different meds to treat this disease but that the internal specialists reccommend Itraconzole. I have called all local drug stores and found it way too expensive for me. I then called all our pharmacutical reps where we order all our vet supplies from, and found one company that is very inexpensive for this antifungal drug. I can buy 100 ct (compounded into capsule form) for $220.00. That will treat my Shepherd "Lucky" almost three months (1oo days). That is our cost from the rep with no mark up in price. If you can get the vets to order this for their client with only a modest mark up then maybe more people can afford to treat their dogs. Anyway, it will take 4-5 working days to get this med compounded, so I will not be able to start treating my dog until next wed or thursday. Yes, you can use my name, city, state, and picture of my dog. I will let ya know how my dog is progressing. Thanks again Terri WolskiPrevious residence was Cumberland, Indiana and then Corydon Indiana after that.
I just found your site and my heart breaks for you, and I feel compelled to write. I have four dogs; three are golden retrievers. My dogs are:
Bandit – a twelve year old Collie/Husky mix that had blasto 5 years ago
Major – a five year old golden who had blasto 4 years ago and a re-occurrence 3 years ago
Duke – a three year old golden (in May); from the same mom as Major; no occurrence yet
Ginger – Duke's litter mate; diagnosed with blasto Monday, August 28th; began Itraconazole Wednesday
So, you can see, I truly empathize with you and the loss of your dog. Ginger's blasto is the FOURTH time we have had to deal with it and I am ready to move out of our home in the country. We must be sitting on a pocket of it on our land. We have a creek near us, but got a fence for the back yard last summer to keep the dogs in a safe area. Guess we were wrong.
All of our dogs have survived and we pray for Ginger each day as she goes through treatment. I seem to catch this early on as I know the signs to look for. One caution about encouraging people to watch for coughing. Bandit is the ONLY dog who coughed. My vet currently says that only 50% of the dogs cough as a beginning sign. People may need to watch for the other signs first. I intensely watch my dogs, observing them and noticing even small changes.
We took Bandit to the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine School at the onset of his cough. They watched him for a few days, got false negative blood work on him, said they “thought” he had a tumor in his chest and wanted to operate. We said ‘NO' after spending a thousands of dollars. Then, we took him to my sister's vet in the same town who was a U of I graduate many years ago, and he and my husband set up a treatment plan using ketoconazole and a steroid. We decided to let Bandit die at home if that is what was going to happen, not alone in a clinic. Bandit was VERY sick, but survived and has now survived two surgeries for peri-anal tumors, some benign and a couple of them being low level carcinoma. He continues to amaze us and we celebrate his life with us every day.
Major ONLY showed the signs of a game back leg with a ‘knot' on his front leg. We thought he had gotten glass in his foot as we had had a window broken in our home. The vet at that time said he thought he had a sprain in his front leg; I wasn't comfortable with that, changed vets and haven't been back to that vet since. I now have two female vets who are current on research and who know about blasto. They know that I am knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms and see my dogs as soon as I call. We seem to be in an area where blasto is VERY prevalent – central Illinois in the Mississippi River Valley – and MANY dogs have died from this disease in our area. Major was started on Itraconazole and he was VERY ill when he started it: wouldn't move or eat, moaned and groaned as he lay on his pallet. He got worse before he got better, but he DID get better. We treated him again when it flared up with ketoconazole and that seemed to work. We just keep our fingers crossed for nothing further.
Ginger is my little girl; I noticed she had a “sick” look in her eye and was lethargic, but it didn't click with me right away because of the hot weather. Once I saw the small lump on her leg and saw her limp, I called the vet last Monday morning. She got us in right away and took X-rays. Her lungs had the “snowy” look and she saw (I'm not good at reading X-rays) a difference in the leg bone. The vet found a pharmacy 40 miles away that carried Itraconazole (it is hard to find here) and Ginger began this Wednesday, Aug. 30th. She is doing VERY well with it (knock on wood) and we are hoping that the next week is just as good as the spores begin to dissipate. Eating during treatment is important, so we have added prescription diet wet food (fatty) to her dry food to encourage her to eat. So far, so good. I will fix hamburger with rice, steak or whatever it takes to keep her eating. I kicked my husband out of bed so that Ginger could sleep with me and so that I could hear her breathing in case it changed. Since her lungs were “snowy”, I was concerned about this difference (from major and Bandit; theirs was more localized and smaller area). The first two days her breathing was “raspy”, but is now clearer. If she has her head up on the pillow, she tends to have a little “rasp” in her breathing; more so than when she lays on her side. This is day four of medication for her.
The cost of Itraconazole has declined dramatically since Major had this. At that time, we were paying over $200 for one month's supply; Ginger's Rx is $87 for one month. Cost is not a factor, though, as I will give up something in order to give the dogs what they need. We have been monitoring the dogs 24/7, taking turns doing errands or getting to appointments. We are now retired (thank GOD), although we weren't when Bandit and Major went through their crises.
I am so sorry for your loss. I appreciate what you are doing as you attempt to enlighten people concerning blasto. I continue to let my friends in the area who have pets know about this dreadful disease, but I am also curious as to why we do not hear more from the Health Department Community. I, too, would like to see some research on this and know that scientists are looking for some solutions and especially, preventions.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you would like to use my story, feel free. I now have your website bookmarked, so I will check it often. Please pray for our Ginger as I truly believe that “doggie prayers” are heard and ours were definitely answered before. Hopefully, we will be taking all FOUR of our dogs to Florida for two months again this winter as we did last year.
~ Sigrid A
Jackie's dog China (Crystal Lake, Illinois)
I too lost my beautiful 4 1/2 year old golden retriever China to Blastomycosis on 3-6-2006.
It was a very similar heartbreaking experience. China & I were very close and did everything together. We went to a dog park every weekend for 2 1/2 years and spent lots of time with other dogs & people at that park.
Anyway, we also live next to a gravel pit and bike trail that I walked her daily on. When she died I tried to figure out how she caught this horrible disease .....I also spent $3,000 in one week trying to save her, but it was too late. When they finally figured out it was Blasto, the medication killed her.
Today I got a call from one of my dog park friends. He had an ongoing problem with one of his ankles for the past year ....pain and swelling that the doctor thought was gout. He is about 45 years old and in good health otherwise. Today they called to say he just had surgery on his ankle and he has Blastomycosis! When the doctor found out where he lived he told him he had 2 other human cases from our same area. (Crystal Lake, Illinois) We now believe that blastomycosis is in the dog park!
The vets are seeing more cases of this in Illinois. Something needs to be done to raise the awareness of people to this "new" disease threatening both human and canine populations.
There is a beautiful web site for people who have lost pets to give tribute to them. It is www.rainbowsbridge.com It gave me some comfort after I lost China and it may help others too.
My boyfriend and I have a black lab that contracted Blastomycosis in 2000. We were hunting with her by the Mississippi River in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. Her symptoms started as a cough and then one morning her eye was totally grey. We took her to the Vet and he suspected Blastomycosis right away. We were sent to a vet opthamologist who did a biopsy of her eye which was blind and it came back blasto. They couldn't guarantee us that she would survive if we tried to treat her. We decided to take our chances because we loved her so much. Her eye was removed and she was started on very expensive medicine called Itraconazole which if I can remember right costed about $150.00 for 7 to 10 days of treatment. She needed this for about 3 months. She made it! We now keep her away from the Mississippi River although we live in Wisconsin and I heard it's been found in northern and southern Wisconsin. It's always a worry. I have heard of a man from Illinois who was building a house in northern Wisconsin who contracted this disease too. He died because the doctors in Illinois were not familiar with this disease, and by the time they found what it was, it was too late. It's a killer! Good luck with your new dog. Watch her closely.
I just lost my wonderful, intelligent, energetic four year old greyhound to this horrible infection. I'd never heard of it before. She declined very quickly, less than three weeks from the first lethargic day to her death. She had none of the symptoms usually associated with this disease. no coughing, no fever, no loss of appetite, no swollen lymph nodes, no sores , no lung, or organ involvement. .....just lethargy until the neurological symptoms showed ( stiff behind progressing quickly within days to not walking). Her blood panel was fine, her x-rays showed nothing. The only place it was found was in her spinal column and brain. The neurological vet that we saw thinks she may have contracted this before I adopted her 10 months ago. She was confined here to a fenced in yard with no likely place to grow this. He suspected what she had, but it was too late to do anything about it as she had brain damage already. I'm just devastated. She was so young and healthy. Thank you for your article.