Blastomycosis is a rare but significant health risk to both humans and pets. Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula is an endemic (or high-risk) area, with the Les Cheneaux Islands region and Drummond Island already identified as high incidence areas. The disease is very serious but treatable, so early diagnosis is crucial. This brochure is designed to provide basic information on the nature of the disease, its signs and symptoms, theatment, and links to more in-depth information. Please read and keep this brochure handy and make sure others know about this issue.
What is Blastomycosis?
Blastomycosis is a gungal infection that can lead to serious and sometimes fatal disease. Dogs and humans are most commonly at risk, although other animals are also suceptible. The fugus grows as a mold in certain soils and forms spores that can be inhaled, especially when the soil in which it is growing is disturbed. Once the lungs are infected, it can affect other parts of the body, including the eyes, skin, genitourinary tract, bones, and joints. Blatomycosis causes a variety of symptoms and can lead to serious illness and death.
Blatomycosis has been identified in various regions of the U.S. and Canada, especially Michigan, Wisconsin, the Ohio River Valley, Southeastern USA, and Georgian Bay (in Canada). Certain areas of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are regarded as high-incidence "hot spots". Residents of and visitors to these areas should become well informed about this threat.
To date, blastomycosis is an underreported disease, and still not enough is understood about it. Therefore, increased knowledge, reporting, collaborative efforts, and support of research are critical to combat this problem.
Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
In its early stages blastomycosis can present
in a variety of symptoms, which can vary
from humans to dogs. You might see:
- Weight loss
- Chest discomfort and/or shortness of breath [mostly seen in humans)
- Weeping sores and/or non-healing skin lesions
- General lethargy
- Compromised coordination
- Limping or lameness with no aparent cause (mostly seen in dogs)
Some at these symtoms are commonly seen in
other illnesses, a diagnosis at blastomyoosis
is often missed. Effective treatment of blastomycosis depends on on early diagnosis.If you suspect blastomyoosis, it is important to
seek immediate medical attention and to let your healthcare provider (Veterinarian, Doctor,Nurse, etc.) know of your blastomyoosis concems so that th will test tor this fungal inlection. Many heaihoare providers are not aware of blastomycosis, since it is an underreported
Consult your vet or doctor and mention your concerns about blastomycosis so that you can discuss it testing for it is appropriate. Current clinioal blastomyoosis tests are not always accurate, so Follow up evaluation should be discussed. If your health care provider is not familiar with blastomycosis, ask that they consult with one who is.
Help and Treatment
There are just a few medications that are currently used to treat blastomycosis. They include Itraconazole (sportanox), Amphotericin B, and other similar drugs. Effective treatment relies on ealry diagnosis and intervention. The choise of treatment wil be made by your healthcare provider.
Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent blastomycosis, so we support researt efforts to help find one. The best ways to limit possible exposures are:
- Learning what the areas and conditions may be likely to harbor the fungus
- Avoid digging in or disturbing effected soil
- Avoid rotting wood
If digging or exvacation in affected areas must be done, earing a surgical mask may be advisable, and keeping dogs, cats, or people with compromised immune systems away from this area is highly suggested. THere is a new research going on a lake Superior State University into the fungal growth in soil. Research may develop new tools to treat soil, but until then, good information and informed choices are the best practice.
Whilte soil testing is available, some experts consider existing testing methods unreliable. New methods of soil testing are currently in develoment at Lake Superior State University and may prove to be a more reliable tool. If you are concerned about your property and are interested in having your soid tested, you should contact Dr. Judy Westrick at LSSU for more information.
Please remember, blastomycosis is a genuine concern in our region and is more of a threat to dogs than other pets or people. It can be best to be dealt with by:
- Becoming well-informed
- Sharing information with others
- Supporting efforts to make the medical community and public better educated about this disease
- Supporting research
The LEs Cheneaux Communit Foundation has established a fund specifically to help accomplish this.
If you are interested in donating to the blastomycosis Field of Interest Fund, please make your check out to LCCF and earmark/memo it for "blastomycosis". Donations can be mailed to:
LCCF, PO Box 249,
Cedarville, Mi 49719
For more information, go online a research blstomycosis.
Additionally, consultation with the following providers and/or researchers is recommended:
Dennis J Baumgardner, M.D.
(focus is on environmental sources of the fungus)
Carol A. Kauffman, M.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Judy Westrick email@example.com
Dr. L. Joe Wheat, MiraVista Diagnostics, Indianapolic, IN., firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Alfred Legendre
MiraVista Diagnostics website: www.miravistalabs.com
Les Cheneaux Community Foundation