Author Topic: Pets and humans threatened by fungus found all over the Northland  (Read 3532 times)

Offline Lisa

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Pets and humans threatened by fungus found all over the Northland
FOX 21 News

There's a family in Superior family hoping they won't lose a dear family member to a fungal infection.  It's called blastomycosis.  It affects animals and humans, and it's everywhere in the Northland.

"This is kinda my son as far as I'm concerned," said Jim Watchske, as he stroked the head of his 5-year-old black labrador named Brody.  Watchske found out Thursday what has kept the dog deathly ill for the last few weeks: blastomycosis. "He has hardly any energy. He's still having laboring in his breathing and he still comes up hacking up like mucus or something caught in his throat," Watchske said.  They took Brody to their veterinarian, who made the diagnosis with a urine sample.

The veterinarian told them the fungus is found all over Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin.

"This is the third documented one for sure of cases we're treating," said Dr. Bob McClellan, a veterinarian with the Superior Animal Hospital.  He explained the fungus exists in sandy soil and lake and river bottoms.  Infection shows up in lung X–rays.  McClellan said it is treatable, but expensive to treat.  The Watchskes were told they would have to pay $10 a pill, giving Brody four pills twice a day, which totals $600 a month.  McClellan said the medicine can take up to two weeks to start working.  The Watschkes found the drugs in Canada for much cheaper.

Then they learned about the other side of blastomycosis: it also affects humans.

"As soon as they said it was something that humans could also get, I was very scared," said Debbie Watchske.  She has two young daughters.

"You can inhale it," said SMDC's Infectious Disease Doctor Rajesh Prabhu.  He explained the infection is not contagious from animals to humans, but usually humans are in the same environment with their pets when they inhale the spores from the soil.  Human infections show up as pneumonia, but don't respond to traditional anti–biotics, and the medicines that do work take time. "The minimum duration of treatment is six months," said Prabhu.

"We just wanted people to be aware," said Debbie Watchske.  She and her family are hoping getting the word out of what they're facing might help someone else catch it sooner.

Prabhu said adults are more susceptible to the infection than children.

He treats at least 12 patients a year for blastomycosis.

Offline jefndebbacon

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Re: Pets and humans threatened by fungus found all over the Northland
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 08:32:18 AM »
Hi Lisa,

Thanks for posting this information.