Year: Fall 2007
Medical Diagnosis of Blastomycosis?: Yes
Where Caught: We suspect Beau caught Blastomycosis while on a 10 day wilderness canoe trip in Quetico Park (in Canada -- just over the border from Minnesota's boundary waters canoe area).
Of course, it's also possible he caught it at home: we have a big reservoir nearby where we sometimes walk --in summer it has a big silty/ clay bathtub ring. Also, a fungus grows on a stump in our backyard and Beau loves chewing wood he finds...
Symptoms: Trip : august
Sudden onset of 'gagging' which I later learned is a dog cough. Quickly followed by not wanting to eat and just laying around.
first vet trip: xray showed big mass -- cancer unlikely given age so they thought it was pneumonia due to aspirating a foreign object. Kept several days for IV antibiotics and fluids. After I took him home, I gave him saline nebulizer breathing treatments several times a day and pounded his chest.
follow up visit: not better, but eating some, 'gagging' less. Now had swelling on toe. x-ray toe normal -- vet thought irritation from IV: antibiotic changed and anti-inflammatory added
2nd follow up visit: by now, he had small crusty sores on his back / shoulders, toe was oozing and about 3 times its normal size, ear tip had a big bump which oozed blood, and he had swollen lymph nodes in neck/armpit area, as well as soft tissue bulges below each eye and a thickness/ firmness to the skin over his chin/throat. Antibiotic changed back to original, biopsy done of chin area. Blood cultures and fungal titres drawn (but I cancelled them the next day after researching and deciding I'd better save money for blastomycosis treatment!). Still with fevers and breathing fast and no energy.
Next day visit: saw my regular vet (as opposed to the vet who saw him when hospitalized and for follow-up) and begged her to give me rx for itraconazole as we awaited biopsy. She looked at by internet materials/sources/photos, and ordered liver blood work and gave me the rx.
Next day: biopsy cam back positive for Blastomycosis. About 1 month from date of first vet visit.
next weeks: fear he would die -- shallow fast breathing, needing to be force fed, all lesions broke to surface of skin and oozed bloody fluid and crusted over.
Finally: gradual improvement. On meds for 11 months (mostly generic itraconazole ordered from canada but shipped from england, also some local generic and some brand-sporonoz from england). Never on steroids. Final xray- chest clear. Still seems more short of breath when exercising than prior to illness.
Treatment: as above:
after diagnosis: itraconazole for 11 months (generic or brand, no compounded), liver blood work done maybe 4 times total? 3 chest x-rays total and 1 toe x-ray.
Cost of Treatment: I haven't allowed myself to total it!
I estimate about $3,000- $4,000.
About 1,250 prior to diagnosis
About 1,200 for meds from england
And remainder for initial meds purchased locally and follow up medical care....
Additional Comments: Beau was very lucky. Despite being untreated for blasto for 1 month, it did not go into his nervous system, bones, or eyes. At this time, we believe he has made a full recovery. He has been off meds for about 5 months now.
His toenail on the affected toe remains thickened.