Locality: St. Joseph Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Medical Diagnosis of Blastomycosis?: Yes
Where Caught: I live on St. Joseph Island, however, I had recently moved from a waterfront home to an acreage hobby farm, all on the same Island. I had been turning over the soil at the farm, walking trails and pretty much every thing else that one can do that may cause Blasto.
Symptoms: Initially it felt like a really bad flu. However, there was a crackling noise in my lungs when I exhaled that prompted my mother to take me to the local hospital on the Island. They x-rayed my chest and sent me to the Sault thinking that I had some knid of pneumonia. In the Sault I was hospitalized with high fever and major chills. I was released after three days with antibiotics. Once home, the chills the first night home wracked my whole body, and the crackling was still there. The next day I returned to the Island hospital where Dr. Roedde took another chest x-ray and personally contacted the emergency room in the Sault to let them know that he felt that there was something strange about the looks of my xray and that it didn't seem like any normal form of pneumonia. By then I was very ill, my blood pressure was extremely low, and I was beginning to blackout. I was quarantined in a glass room in the Intensive Care Unit, until a diagnosis could be made. Fortunately a visiting doctor from Louisiana was in the hospital where the floods had just occured, and she immediately suggested blastomycosis. Dr. Berg, our respiratory illness head performed a wash of my lungs, proved the diagnosis of blasto and began treatment through an IV af amphetericin or "amphi-terrible" as the nurses and docs called it because it makes you so sick while you are taking it.
Treatment: The amphi-terrible IV stayed in for about three weeks along with stuff to help the stomach because the throwing up was such a problem from the medication. Lost a lot of weight, couldn't stand eating, everything tasted like yeast. I had to force down protein drinks that they gave me or they were going to make me have a feeding tube because my white? blood cell count was so low. Fever remained for weeks. It was horrible, really. I really wish that Ontario would inform people of the dangers as it is so serious and there are so many visitors to this area (which is I now know, known for this) who then return home and if this disease is not known to that area where they live then there is little chance that it would be diagnosed.
Cost of Treatment: Once released from the hospital I took sporanox at a cost of about 900 dollars every two weeks. This was continued for 4 or 5 months. At the hospital they said that the amphiteracin is about $1500.00 per day or week, can't remember, but very expensive.
Additional Comments: I have since heard many stories of dogs from this Island that have died as a result of blasto...a vet from this area even used the term "epidemic". My doctors as well as some specialist doctors with whom my family is friends recommended moving to the city, and surrounding myself with concrete. I did move immediately from that farm, however, I still live on the Island, which I adore, however, my waterfront home is built entirely on rock. I do have a beaver dam and stream on my 11 acres, as well as three dogs who cover the area daily, however, neither them, nor I, nor my fiance who does construction on the Island, including ripping up decks, crawling beneath cabins and plenty of digging, has ever had a problem with blasto. So far anyway...I am very aware though and would suggest it first now to doctors or vets if we or the doggies ever were ill. 5 years healthy and goin' strong...