Health

This Fungus is Everywhere and Wants to Kill Everyone

Blasto can pretty much do what it wants, where it wants and look like anything

December 27, 2016 (published)

You may never have heard of blastomycosis (or if you have, my condolences), but it is caused by a ubiquitous fungus called Blastomyces found in certain parts of the U.S. and it wants to eat your dog and, very rarely, your cat. It lives in soil and sometimes it also wants to eat you (although – important point here – you can’t get it from your dog). You and your dog get it from the same place: dirt. That point is important, so I want to stress it again: Blastomycosis (often abbreviated to just “blasto,” which to me sounds like a really sugary breakfast cereal or the latest aperitif creation from the fine folks who brought us Goldschlager) is not among the diseases we call zoonotic like rabies and ringworm: it doesn’t go from pets to people, or from people to pets.

Since I’m a human and a doctor, but I’m not a human doctor, I can’t talk about the whole wants to eat you part. I can only talk about the wants to eat your dog part, so that’s what I’ll do. (If you have ever had a dog sick with Blasto, I want to point out that I’m not making fun or light of the disease, or any dog that’s ever been sick with it, or died from it.)

Here are the relevant facts about Blasto:

  • It is found in the Midwest, usually around the Great Lakes region.
  • It usually affects the lungs, eyes, and skin of dogs.
  • Symptoms can include anything – weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever.
  • Dogs with the lung form usually cough, stop eating, and lose weight.
  • Dogs with the eye form have red, painful, and swollen eyes.
  • It is very, very, VERY difficult to treat.
  • It’s a part of this nutritious breakfast.

Blasto is one of those diseases that can pretty much do what it wants, where it wants and look like anything. It can look like cancer, it can look like a skin infection…anything. It’s an utterly terrifying disease and when I diagnose it, my heart sinks. I know it’s just trying to survive like the rest of us, but Blasto is mean, nasty, and verging on evil.

The only way to prevent this disease is to move to an area that doesn’t have it.

I hear Antarctica is nice.

Many other parts of the U.S. and the world have their own endemic fungal diseases, like histoplasmosis in the Ohio River valley, and coccidioidomycosis in the Southwest. If you move around, you may just be swapping a risk for one disease for another. (One common thread among fungal diseases is that they are as hard to treat as they are to pronounce.)

In order to diagnose Blasto, you have a few options. Let’s say you have a dog with chronic fevers, and your vet decides to do a chest X-ray as part of the workup. With Blasto it looks like someone took a normal dog chest X-ray and put it in a snow globe: little white globby patches everywhere. A dog with cancer that’s spread to the lungs can look quite similar, which is why blasto is often misdiagnosed as metastatic cancer. For dogs with the lung form (they can have it in many places at once, as well. Did I mention this was a nasty disease?) you can sample the airways with an endoscope in hopes of seeing some of the little fungal organisms, or you can do a pretty convenient and relatively inexpensive urine test that is fairly reliable. The turn-around time is several days, which often frustrates people, but it’s a good way to confirm suspicions of blasto. It’s not 100%, but it’s good: no test is right 100% of the time, a fact pet owners should remember.

For the eye form, many veterinary ophthalmologists are well versed in dealing with it, so if you have a dog with an eye problem that hasn’t resolved after seeing your family veterinarian, ask them about a referral to an eye specialist. Sadly many dogs with the eye form will end up losing the eye due to the damage caused by the fungus.

The skin form is the easiest to diagnose. Dogs with the skin form often have chronic open sores that ooze green goo (which is dead fungus, bacteria and white blood cells: pus), and it doesn’t respond well to antibiotics (more on that below). To diagnose the disease, you can often take some of that green goo, put it on a slide, send it to a pathologist and get your answer in three to five days.

The reason I say doesn’t respond well to antibiotics instead of doesn’t respond at all is that the sores from blasto can become infected with bacteria; remember that blasto is a fungus, a whole different type of organism than bacteria and viruses. If the sores become infected, it’s like a ship full of pirates (blasto) that’s stopped to take on a load of dangerous lunatics (bacteria). You have just added badness to the badness. If you get rid of all the lunatics with antibiotics, you still have a ship full of pirates. That’s what antibiotics do to the skin lesions in blasto, and why they may have a small response to antibiotics.

So what does it respond to? Well, if you’re lucky, it’ll respond to antifungal drugs like itraconazoleketoconazole, or fluconazole. But like much with this disease, it’s not that easy. First, antifungals can cost a lot; depending on the size of the patient, the drug alone can run into the thousands. It doesn’t clear up quickly, either. Dogs who are being treated can take the medication for months on end. And sometimes the medication themselves can have nasty side effects (all medications have the potential for side effects, but antifungals are more likely to make patients feel sick than most drugs we use). However, unlike coccidioidomycosis, the patient doesn’t need to be on an anti-fungal for life after recovery.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this disease is that in many cases the treatment can lead to the patient’s death. If the dog has lungs full of fungus, the dead organisms can set off such a strong reaction by the immune system when treatment starts that the inflammation alone can make the lungs worse and kill the patient, or make them so desperate for air that their owners choose to euthanize. It’s like the ship full of pirates setting fire to the ship as it sinks below the water. Treating a dog with the lung form of blasto has about a 50% success rate.

So here’s a summary of my thoughts about blasto:

  • It’s hard to diagnose.
  • It’s impossible to prevent.
  • You have to treat it with a drug that costs thousands.
  • And can make the patients even sicker.

It’s an evil disease. I don’t care if it is just trying to survive. Owners and veterinarians alike often experience an emotion sometimes referred to as helplessness, but unfortunately that's the reality.

 

55 Comments

Drew
September 15, 2020

I live in middle TN and our female Rottweiler got Blasto. She is 2yrs old weight was 100lb, and she lost 20lb and we noticed hard lumps on her snout, fever,lethargic, hurt to walk. Vet check thought was bone cancer because her face bones were starting to deteriorate to the point they had to pull 2 teeth. Tests results came back negative for cancer and bone samples produced the bacteria growth of Blasto. She was given Itraconazole 100mg (2 daily) and she recovered fairly quick. She fat and sassy again! I researched to see that female dogs seem to have a better survival rate than males. Now her brother (male Rottweiler) appears to have this! Going through testing procedures Now. He has soft lumps you can feel under his skin but fevered, lethargic, lost 20lbs so far, it seems like the symptoms just hit at once. So far both dogs would eat fairly normal and then one day your like..wait I can almost see your ribs buddy. Also both had runny nose also. They are full time inside dogs but do have about a half an acre of fenced in yard they use to potty/play. The vet asked if they were in wooded area...there is woods right outside the fence in the back but not in our yard but I guess Blasto gets in the soil and so far not seeing a treatment for that. We also had a lab that was full time outside...he never got it and so far our toy pomerian hasn't gotten it. We've been here 6yrs at this address these Rottweilers are almost 3yrs old now. I'll try to update in the male...hope he makes it!


Carrie Ashley
September 2, 2020

I am desperately trying to learn all I can about this disease.  Blastomycosis just took the life of my otherwise healthy 7 year old rescue dog.  The day he was diagnosed is the day we had to put him down as he was beading internally and struggling to catch his breath.  Unfortunately, he was sick for a month and not diagnosed with Blastomycosis until it was to late.  We spent thousands of dollars trying to save him thinking it was Prostate cancer and it ended up being Blastomycosis.  (Enlarged Testicles and prostate are a sign of Blastomycosis) The guilt is tremendous, knowing if found earlier, it could have been treated.  "Lucky" was a humane society dog and was presumed a mix of border collie and beagle. We live in southestern Wisconsin and our dog was ALWAYS on a leash.  Our outings involved walking on our streets in our neighborhood.  He was not a "chewer" or a digger and was never in our yard unless we were walking him on our leash.  We cant figure out where he would have picked up this virus.  The only thing I can think of is that we have pine trees in our yard and instead of grass, we put wood mulch underneath our trees and into our yard (instead of grass).  He would walk over this mulch to get to our front door.  I am trying to research if a dog can pick up this virus from walking on freshly laid or older wood mulch?  We get "yards" of mulch delivered every spring and lay fresh mulch down.  We would like to get another dog and I am deathly afraid of the same thing happening.  I am ready to remove all the wood mulch in our yard as I cant imagine going thru this pain with another dog.  Heartbroken in Wisconsin


Jean Morgan
August 30, 2020

I had to euthanize my beautiful German shepherd June 23, 2020. Her name was Bridgit Jones and she was only 5. This Blastomycosis took her down so fast. Bridgit , a month before she died was vibrant, happy, and I'm devastated by her getting this wretched thing and dying so young. Her chest x ray was just like a snow storm. I had had her to the vets several times, they did tests but were insure what was wrong. Bloodwork showed nothing 3 weeks prior to her death. Bridgit had no cough, no discharge from her nose or mouth. Covid made vet visits tricky. On June 23, when I got home from work, Bridgit was panting through her nose, cheeks puffing out, her tongue was blue. The vet clinic said, in the 25 years in practice, they've not had a case before. I'd never heard of it before and I'm in my 60's. This is a dreadful fungus. I miss my Bridgit everyday. She was the best .


Bridget Krieglmeier
August 23, 2020

We leave in Minnesota , our black  laborador died of this disease in july, devastating .


Rebecca Carson
August 20, 2020

December of 2019 my fullntime indoor cat got sick. I took her to my vet whomsaid she was getting old and dying. I took her to new vet who did lots of bloodwork and uktrasound ($700). Took her next to U of I who told me she had cancer  of mouth, lungs, blinded in one eye, swollen lymph glands, . Took her home  but got scared so in three days took her back to U of I expecting they would put her to  sleep. A student was the one who said blasto. She spent a week there and sent home with feeding tube for a month. Then she had some breathing probkems and spent another week there. Recently we cut her fluconazol to half for a week because she was throwing it up. She has bloodwork next week.You have to  have blood work every month. The disease is a nightmare. They think i brought it into the house on my shoes. We just finished 7 months of treatment and her lung tumor is just now shrinking. She won't get her sight back,


Kayla R
August 17, 2020

We live in GA, north of Atlanta, and our black lab contracted this and died last week. It has devastated our family. Because it's so rare in GA, the vet was treating him for pneumonia which of course, the anti biotics didn't help. We found out it was blasto once we took him to the ER and they took a sample. We don't know where he could have gotten it other than our yard - which I hope not because we have two other dogs - or when we went hiking in N GA. My poor baby lost 10 pounds over a couple weeks and by the end he could barely walk and didn't know where he was. This is truly an evil thing.


Pam Wilson
July 23, 2020

My 8 year old Ibizan Hound was just diagnosed this week with Blasto. He is covered in oozing abscesses all over his body, he has a fever and lesions were found in his lungs. He lost 5 lbs in one week. and his legs are swollen and painful. He was put on Fluconazole immediately after diagnosis. He is in such bad shape we dont know if we have caught it in time. We beleive he also contracted it from our backyard and there is nothing that can be done. I cant just up and move. This is a horrid infection and would not want any other animals to get this. I can only pray Levi will survive.


Meri R.
July 5, 2020

My love, my heart, my 6 yr old goldendoodle was diagnosed in February after having to have a toe amputated. She responded great at first to meds, blasto numbers decreasing by 50% every month. Then all the sudden she got a sore on her tail, and a rash on her back..and then a cough in May. We have cleared her pneumonia, but the sores are not going away, and now she is very lethargic. We think the meds are killing her. I'm at my end, I don't know if I'm helping or killing her anymore.


Jill
June 24, 2020

This breaks my heart. I live in Arkansas and we just lost our most loved dog Ash, who served as my dads PTSD dog, to this nasty thing. We only found out it was this and maybe also something called Histoplasmosis after he was gone. We have lost two other dogs in the past ten years and now we know it must have been the same thing. IT'S FAST!!! One day he was chasing squirrels the next day he had a slight cough. Took him to the vet to make sure something wasn't lodged in his throat, it wasn't. They didn't do an xray. the next day he was limping. Took him to the vet and they couldn't find anything. They gave him a steroid. A couple of days later he was blind in one eye the the other was going. Rushed him to a specialist and they told us they were going to have to remove his eyes but he is young and should be able to cope. They first had to do a chest xray. They called us early the next morning and said that after they took the xray the night before they found his lungs were full of fungus! Not only his lungs but it was throughout his body! He died the next day. All of this happened in a weeks time! Looking back now we realize that all of our loss of dogs had the same symptoms and died fast and no one had a clue. After thousands of dollars and more heartache than one family should have we finally know what it was (by our request we asked the last vet to do a fungi test to see what it was) Now we find out that apparently there is no way to get rid of the fungi from the soil. So is it safe for the grand kids to be outside playing in the dirt? Can my dad never have another service dog? How come none of the vets in the past have caught this?


Joy Banks
June 16, 2020

I have just lost a GermanShepherd last week to symptoms alot like the one's you have described. My vet thought it was cancer then he went on to mention a fungas, it has cost thousands to treat, but sadly it was too late. The problem i have with this, is i live in the UK and there is no mention of this country with this type of fungas. I used to take my dog out in woods near lakes, so i am curiouse to know can this fungi be in the UK


Lori
April 8, 2020

I'm in Southern Middle TN a few miles from AL. My dog was diagnosised with blast yesterday. His foot is so swollen and he cant walk on it- Vet says its eaten his bone... im so afraid we will have to euthanize our baby...


Tommy Reeves
March 29, 2020

I recently had to put my Golden retriever down due to she had cancer. She was only 8 years old. My other dog (Gracie) had an infected toe for 8 weeks so after finally doing an x-ray, they said it needed to be amputated. As you can see, this is getting very expensive. Now, Gracie has not been eating again but this time the diagnosis was blastomycosis. She has not eaten in 2 weeks and not drinking very little. She is lethargic and as the Vet said, these pills are very expensive. We are frustrated this is happening again and we do not live in the region where it is prominent. We live in Alabama. My prayer is she makes it through, the doc. said let's just go 1 week at a time.


Jasmine
March 7, 2020

I had an Australian shepherd diagnosed with the lung form of blasto in October he was miss diagnosed once and was given antibiotics which worsens the blasto. The disease had progressed so far he had lost his vision before he was diagnosed and it had completely covered his lungs, his eyes, his skin, his brain. He was on an extremely high dose of antifungals and steroids along with medicines to calm his stomach and help him eat. Some medications were administered through IV. After 2 months of treatment he had good days and bad days but  there was no real improvement and it had continued to spread until it affected his mental capacity and he became incontinent amount other things. We had to put him down at the end of January. At the end of February my other dog is now having the same symptoms and I don’t know if I can go through the process again. The vet has ran all the test and so far everything has come back negative but his symptoms are getting worse by the day. I hope no ones pet has to experience this disease and if they do I hope they are the lucky ones because it is hard on everyone.


Becky
March 4, 2020

I live in southern Illinois. My housecat was diagnosed with blasto a month ago. She is blind in one eye, has a mass in her lungs, had abscesses all over her tail, and a lump on her neck. I have to tube  feed her because it attacked her mouth and it is too sore to eat. It was  misdiagnosed four times. I truly believe she has had it for over a year. She was being treated for tail abscesses and asthma. No one can believe a housecat got this. I am surrounded by crop land. I can't believe this happened.


Lori Kater
January 31, 2020

I am in Southern Illinois and my Australian Shepherd was diagnosed with it, started as a terrible cough with a runny nose.  I thought it was like a sulinus infection then noticed little sores that he constantly licked.  Did X-RAYS, blood and urine test confirmed it.  Put on Itraconazole once a day helped tremendously.  He was placed on antibiotics and Prednisone in the beginning.  Vet is keeping him on Itraconazole for two months and repeating tests again.  I want to know how to get rid of it in the soil...


Sandra James
January 23, 2020

Faye Neeland & anyone whose dog has blasto in lungs. Keep them calm. No running around. Walk on leash. Activity puts too much pressure on lungs that are already severely compromised. Our dog Hammer just wasn't right and I kept taking to vet for 6 months then finally diagnosed on a Saturday and gone on Sunday. It's been 2 1/2 yrs and I am still broken hearted. We moved but still own the house. Was looking for info on what we could do to our yard so we could move back home and protect our other dogs. From everything I have read here I guess there's nothing we can do. Seriously considering turf and concrete. It is a horrible disease and the treatment is horrible too.


Theresa Bringhurst
January 15, 2020

My dog was diagnosed with blastomycosis over a week ago along with pneumonia we have him on itraconazole and clavamox. Thought we where going to lose him last night he was coughing so hard he could barely breath. This clear & white foamy mucas was coming up. Is this good or bad? I'm just beside myself he is 6 years and I've had him since he was 5 days old! Any advise? I'm desperate in the smoky mountains NC


Karen L. Pennington
January 15, 2020

4 Year survivor of Blasto! I want to give hope to some of you with newly diagnosed pups. My 8 year old Golden Retriever was acting lethargic, no appetite, eye draining, no energy, her breath smell changed, and she would sit in a corner and stare at the wall. I was aware of Blasto being a problem where we vacation in the summer, so insisted on testing for it at my vet. She had no sores, her lung xray was clear (unusual), but it came back positive. We started on Itraconazole, and things worsened. She got lesions that the vet could see behind her eyes. We switched to Fluconazole, and she improved pretty quickly. We tested again and it came back clear, but they want 2 clear tests before going off the meds. After consulting with our vet, I opted to keep her on the Fluconazole preventatively. She takes 200 mg morning and night. I get her blood tested regularly to make sure her organs aren't suffering from the meds, but have had good luck so far.  We continue to vacation at our cabin on the shores of Lake Huron in the upper peninsula of Michigan and I feel very lucky to have caught it quickly and still have a healthy dog. Early diagnosis is key. You know your dog better than anyone - insist on the testing if you suspect something is up.  This disease is misdiagnosed as cancer often, and unfortunately the word is just NOT out about this disease. Even the vets in our area are a bit uninformed about it. 


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
November 22, 2019

Hi Tammi, I'm so sorry to hear about your dogs.  Unfortunately, as Dr. Johnson said in this article, there really isn't any way of removing Blastomycosis from the environment.


Tammi
November 20, 2019

My beloved sheltie died 3 weeks ago with no warning after undiagnosed congestive heart failure. Right after that, my half heeler/border collie started a cough like she had swallowed something and couldn’t get it out of her throat. I took her to my vet and told them “ I think she swallowed something and can’t get it out of her throat“. They prescribed cough medicine and sent us home, saying she was healthy. Then, one week ago I came home from work and all of a sudden she couldn’t open her left eye. It looked like it had a bad infection. It’s startled me so much I took her to the emergency vet that night. He drew a lot of lab work, took a chest x-ray, and sent a specimen to test for Blasto. He also started her on an antibiotic for her eyes. Three days later, he called and said it came back positive for Blasto and he started her on an anti-fungal. Her left eye still locked iPhone. They said we needed to get her to a canine ophthalmologist as soon as possible. I took her up to the University of Wisconsin Madison and brought her to their animal clinic. They said her left eye prognosis is “guarded” and that she had a partial retinal detachment from the blasto, but the blasto did not get into her right eye, her lungs, or anywhere else in her body. She has now had five doses of the antifungal and the coughing has stopped. Her eye looks better. We are holding our breath and going day by day. This disease is awful, awful. This is what I would love to know: IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET RID OF THIS IN YOUR YARD? I don’t want grandchildren or future pets to get it! SHOULD I MOVE? IS IT POSSIBLE TO TREAT A YARD AND NOT HAVE THE TREATMENT ITSELF BE A THREAT TO THE DOG? Who am I supposed to direct these questions to? Do you think a yard specialist would know these answers? Please, and the answers you can give would be greatly appreciated!


Madelyn Phillips
November 8, 2019

My dog had a chest xray today. It came back with white spots everywhere. I do not know what to do. It is either fungal, bacterial or cancer. Can anyone review the xray and see if it looks similar to their dogs. I have a feeling its fungal. Doctor recommended transtrachel wash. It starts out at $3000. Is there a cheaper suggestion for diagnosing that anyone knows of? Please any information will be greatly appreciated. Btw I live in Mid Michigan area.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
October 8, 2019

Hi Lori,  as with any medical care, you'll want to give your veterinarian a call to ask about activity for your dog during treatment.  They have a better idea of the risks in your area and how much your dog is likely to exert himself than we do.  Best to you and your pup!


Lori D McCoy
October 7, 2019

My dog was just diagnosed with this blasto fungus in his lungs. I live in a heavily wooded area. Is it still ok for him to be/go outside?? He's a lab/Rottweiler mix, so he loves to be outside hunting critters and digging holes. His veterinarian never said if it was ok or not for him to stay outside while he's taking this medication.


Debora
September 14, 2019

We lost our beautiful playful dog Rosie after about 2 weeks of trying to figure out what she had and treating her for blastomycosis for four treatments.  She could NOT breath and finally could not go on.  This is brutal.  Healthy to dead in no more than 3 week.  2 weeks of realizing something was wrong.  Dropped weight, energy decreasing daily and breathing so heavy the last few days.  If you dog is outside in the country KNOW this disease and its symptoms.  It is heartbreaking.


Dr. Tony Johnson
August 27, 2019

Hi Faye, I'm so sorry about your dog. To my knowledge. there's nothing that can be done to sterilize the yard, unfortunately. This a very ubiquitous fungus and can't be eradicated. Trying to prevent your dog from digging might be helpful. Luckily, not every dog who digs will develop clinical disease, so the odds that your other dog will be affected are vanishingly low. Good luck and try not to worry. -- Dr. Tony


Mike
August 27, 2019

Thank you for this great article (and comments), unfortunately we discovered it too late. Our 8 month old chocolate lab enjoyed the months of June - August at our island summer cottage on Georgian Bay in Ontario.  She had boundless energy and loved to dig into and chew on anything she could get near.  We were totally ignorant to the dangers hidden in the soil. Near the end of July we noticed a slow decline in her energy levels and by the first week of August she had a large abscess on her nose.  We brought her to the local vet who also noticed a high fever and swollen lymph nodes throughout her body.  Her blood work looked normal and he advised taking her back to the US for tests immediately.  The animal hospital in the US noticed several more abscesses on her body (legs, sides) and even some secretion coming out of her nails.  They eventually diagnosed her with Blastomycosis.  We had no idea what this was but were initially relieved to find out it was treatable. We were wrong.  Despite every possible effort, she did not survive two weeks on the treatment. Her appetite and energy kept declining and eventually she stopped eating anything.  Not sure if it was the infection, the treatment, or the lack of will to endure more pain that took her in the end.  She was one week shy of 9 months. We feel so guilty that we were ignorant to the risk of this horrible infection.  Would advise anyone to keep their dogs from digging around the Great Lakes and to alert others of this danger.


Faye Neeland
August 26, 2019

We just lost our beloved dog to blasto, and he was only a year old. I watched him suffer from this disease for only a week and it took him, fast. We still have one dog that is living in the same conditions as the one that passed. We don't live on the lake, they are both diggers and we have a lot of trees in our yard. I live in northern MN. Where did he get this?? Can I get soil tested in our yard? What can I do? I am terrified my other dog will also get this.


Phyllis DeGioia
August 16, 2019

Jackie - We are so sorry to hear of your deep loss. My heart is with you.


Jackie Carroll
August 15, 2019

Our Dog Moose passed away today from this fungus. My heart is breaking.


Nala's Mom
June 1, 2019

Unfortunately our beloved nala has been attacked by this nasty fungus. She didn’t show any symptoms and suddenly this past week she stopped eating completely, was having trouble breathing as if something was in her throat and she was trying to get it out. So I took her to her vet. 6 hours later and after 8 vets looked at her xrays they all agree it’s Blasto we see her X-ray and her lungs are almost completely taken over by this fungus. They started her on itraconozole, tid, and amoxicillin. She’s not eating or drinking so we had the vet administer fluids. I’m scared, scared we caught it to late and I’m being selfish pumping her with fluids and meds because I’m not ready to let her go. She’s lost almost 20 pounds in a week. Maybe I didn’t notice and she had signs before. I have two other dogs and I want to know how to get rid of this thing from my yard. They are inside dogs and only go out to do their business, so she must have caught it from our yard. I don’t have house plants.


Connie
January 13, 2019

We are currently treating our lab for Blasto. She was diagnosed fairly quickly by a vet in Kenora, Ont.  we are from an area where Blasto is not endemic but we have a cabin in the Lake of the Woods region of Ont. Canada. She started on Sporanox and then we switched to generic itracanozole. I discovered on online c drug coupon site called Goodrich.com and it is honored by Walmart, Costcond others. It reduced the cost of 60 100mg from over $500 to about $140. This is generic itracanazole in capsule form. It is not compounded form which is hardly effective. Our dog has responded well and has been treated for about 31/2 months so far. She had been symptom free until a couple weeks ago when she developed what looked like a pressure sore that she had licked on her hock and another oozy small lesion on top of her head. We are currently trying to discern whether these are Blasto related or possibly vasculitis lesions from the itracanazole. She has been on a high dose the whole time due to miscommunication between vets. The vet in Kenora that has treated lots of Blasto says it is more likely from the mess than Blasto so we have reduced the dosage and seeing if the lesions improve. Dogs at 5mg/kg per day don't seem to get vasculitis lesions but dogs at the 10 mg/kg per day sometimes due. Our dog has been closer to the higher dosage than the lower for the entire treatment time. We will be send blood work to MiraVista Labs to check for Blasto and itracanazole levels after two weeks on the lower dosage.  Hopefully we can finish the lower dosage and get her lesions healed and have evidence of being Blasto free. For some excellent information about Blasto check out the Mira Vista Lab website. Good Luck to everyone dealing with this dread disease.  There is treatment available and early diagnosis is the key.


Leah
November 21, 2018

Reading peoples comments and I noticed most of them sound like their pets were sick with symptoms for a while. My dog just died today. She was sick a week and a half. She was only diagnosed with Blasto yesterday. It has been a horrific time for her and I. I now fear my other dog will get sick. They both are in my yard 80% of the time. I am looking for something that says how to rid your yard of it. Or a way to prevent an exposed pet from getting sick.


Jerry
October 21, 2018

My little man Jake got this fungal infection little over a year ago. Never heard of it and his vet was not very familiar either; he had heard of the disease. He did quite a bit of research and we started treating Jake with Intraconazole but no one expected him to survive. Many tumors in his lungs that caused him to cough like he had something stuck in his throat and attempting to clear the object. He had one huge one and a lot of smaller tumors. Two vets later, they diagnosed allergies. When his breathing became very shallow and rapid, i took him to an emergency clinic. That is where it was determined to be blasto. With the diagnosis, he began the Intraconazole protocol. 2 capsules daily for 6 months and that medication is expensive @ $8 per capsule. After 30 days he showed improvement and after 6 months, appears to have eliminated the fungus. His last two urine samples came back negative for presence of antigens. My only advice is be diligent and never hesitate to get a second or even third opinion.


Kathleen
March 29, 2018

My German Shepard Bear is at MedVet right now for second day and most likely has this. We are waiting for final results tomorrow. He has lesions on lungs and kidneys. He stopped eating and has labored breathing. We are distraught and first time learning about this.


Katrina
March 20, 2018

My 4 yr old Boxer has this and it's horrible.  We have been fighting this since last December and just last week had to have both eyes removed.  He has it in his lungs, eyes and has bald spots now on his fur and scabs on his body.  Since removing his eyes he is actually starting to act like himself.  Please do not waste time if you think your dog has this horrible fungus!!  If our vet would have even asked somebody else or referred us to MedVet in Indy right away....we might have been able to save Fletchers vision.  I am eternally grateful to his specialist at MedVet in Indy and his eye specialist at Animal Eye clinic in Carmel.  They were very honest about the expectations and did everything they possible could to save his vision.


Liz
March 15, 2018

My dog was just diagnosed yesterday with Blasto after 5 weeks of tests at the local vet, we finally took her to Purdue Vet Research Hospital.  Thankfully they diagnosed it pretty quick.  My dog doesn't have it in her lungs.  She contracted it through an open would in her paw.  She has open sores on two paws, one on the inside of her mouth and one on her gumline....I am horrified that she contracted this nasty, nasty thing.  We live in a wet wooded area, so there is no question this came from our backyard.  She will be on anti-fungal meds for 4-6 months.


Chris
March 14, 2018

My sweet Bones has this horrible disease for the 2nd time in her life. She is a "home" dog, who is only outside in our yard to do business, or if we're outside as a family. It's winter in WI, so she could have ONLY contracted this horrible fungus in our own yard. She lost her vision in one eye last summer with her first bout of this, but recovered quite well otherwise. Now she's lost vision in her other eye. She's 8 yrs old, and we're having a hard time deciding if we should continue treating her, or say good-bye and stop her suffering. I don't know if my heart could bear her recovering, and then contracting this nastyness a 3rd time! When we do say good-bye, I'm terrified to get another dog due to the fact that this must be in our yard! My heart goes out to any owner who has been through this!


Brian
January 9, 2018

We are going through this now, and treating at home with several drugs prescribed by our vet. We have fungus all over our lawn (near where our dog goes potty), so we suspect this is the culprit. We are not sure what to do to fix the soil, but right now our concern is getting her healthy. She has lameness (which does seem to be improving), absesses that drain, large lymph nodes, swelling in the leg, and bad pneumonia. She is having a difficult time breathing, and has been on the medication for almost a week. Her fever has remained a constant 105 or higher, and this has been so heartbreaking for us. We can't afford to hospitalize her, and we don't want to give up either. We are hoping the medication will kick in soon. We are having to feed her with a syringe with boiled chicken and rice liquefied. We are also having to force her to poop, which has been less than fun to do. She has been more responsive today, and loves when we lay with her and pet her; though she isn't her usual self. This disease is heartbreaking.


Lisa
April 30, 2017

When our 1 yr old Black Lab was diagnosed, it was devastating! We had never heard of it but immeadiately did our research! Our vet put him on Sporanox right away. He wasn't improving and was put on Fluconazole. It was incredibly expensive! Our vet worked with our local Target Pharmacy and got us a great discount! He had open wounds where his lymph nodes were. We noticed his eyes started to look like he had cataracts. Our vet examined him and gave us the bad news that it had moved to his eyes!! One was worse than the other. The fluconazole was working and the sores started to heal and his lungs were also starting to clear up! We then took him to see a vet optholomigist. He confirmed he was blind in his left eye and the right one was recovering! We were so sad! We met with our vet and decided it was best to have the eye removed and have him neutered. Blasto can be in the testicles. She removed his left eye and neutured him. I just bawled when we picked him up after surgery! He was so excited to see us! Having only one eye has never slowed him down! Our vet did test his eye and testicles and the Blasto was still present in his eye! We made the right choice to remove it! Sammy is going to be 12 in July! He is the best dog EVER!! He had a rough start his first year, but has had a great life and lots of love!! Working with the MN Dept of Health we think he got it from the lake shore at our resort in Northern MN. We never allow him near the lake shore any more! That was hard because he loved the water! He still loves the boat and goes fishing with us. We walk him onto the dock and into the boat! Even with only one eye, his is a great frisbee dog! Without the great care he received from our vet, I don't think he would still be with us!


Kate McDuffee, DVM
April 14, 2017

Hi, Tony! Just FYI. We've got it in the Southeast as well (at least here in North Georgia).


Meg Hoffmann
April 14, 2017

I've known a few dogs lost to Blasto having lived in Northeastern WI where people and dogs alike are killed from it too often. If you decide to treat with the expensive drugs (I know I would try) Walgreens has a Rx drug program that allows dogs (and cats) on it and they give substantial discounts. I've used it for antibiotics because my dogs and I are all Lyme victims so I don't know what the discount would be for the costly antifungals but I would certainly look into it and not give up.


Jan D
April 14, 2017

Is there a way to treat your yard to kill the fungus while it's still in the ground?


Carolyn Hettich
April 14, 2017

Ok...  I'm just moving is to a bubble.


Dawn Reisinger
April 13, 2017

Montana is blissfully lacking in fungal diseases.


Janice La Pinta
April 13, 2017

So if I dig in dirt, for planting, I could get it too?  and does washing hands help ?


Damaris
April 13, 2017

Sounds like an awful infection.  What about adding Serrapeptase (proteolytic) enzyme to assist the antifungals?


Phyllis Dinsmore
April 13, 2017

Is it related to cryptococcus gatti (sp?)


Victoria Meurer
April 13, 2017

My collie was allergic to several kinds of fungus that are found in dirt. I had to get rid of all my house plants. I read a lot about fungus in the lawn and dirt and it said the best way was to keep the grass cut really short so the dirt has a chance to dry out and also to get rid of as much dead grass as possible because that keeps the ground moist for the fungus to grow. It did help and he was able to lay out in the yard without breaking out in sores.


Sheila Hamlin
April 13, 2017

To scary to comprehend! Never heard of it until this article and I live in Northern Minnesota


Linda
April 13, 2017

It is as bad as described...had a dog with it...started with eye, which he lost due to blindness caused by blasto....then came sores over 95% of his body....terrible...then research done on him as test subject, only to die in the end because of complications from everything I stated...check your dogs and cats, ny vets frequently.  It is a very heart breaking disease.

Lisa
April 13, 2017

One option to try to minimize dogs digging in dirt (where this evil fungus lives) is to set up a sand box for them. If necessary, you can work with a positive reinforcement trainer to encourage your dog to choose the sand over dirt. But, it's an easy and inexpensive option that often works. Good luck, everyone.


Mandy
January 27, 2017

Oh no, now I have another thing to worry about. Both my dogs are diggers and would dig themselves to China if they could.  I am constantly filling up holes in their yard. How in the world am I going to stop them from doing that now?  I've tried everything I can think of short of coating their whole 1/4 enclosed yard in hot pepper flakes. I'm really at a loss here and will just have to suggest the vet check them for this disease too if they get sick with a mysterious illness. .


Dr. Tony Johnson
January 4, 2017

That's a good point - Sporanox is thought to be better by many internists who treat this condition a lot, but there is paper saying fluconazole is useful as well and it's cheaper.  If starting with itraconazole, use Sporanox at first to be sure it's working.


Taylor Race Sutton
January 1, 2017

Very insightful. A lot of new things learned. It's a damn shame this disease exists.


Patricia R.
December 30, 2016

Ugh!I agree that this is a nasty disease.  I just had a cat diagnosed in upstate NY.   Blastomycosis is everywhere. It was really horrible to treat and the cat didn't make it. One thing that I discovered is that compounded itraconazole is not effective. You need to use sporanox. Thanks for the great info.



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