Vets warn pet owners about Blastomycosis this spring and summer

Health officials are reminding pet owners of a rare fungal infection that can affect animals, including dogs. (Source: WLUC)
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:49 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Blastomycosis cases continue to rise in Delta County, linked to the Escanaba Billerud Paper Mill.

With that, health officials are reminding pet owners this rare fungal infection can affect pets, including dogs.

“Blastomycosis is a fungal organism that animals can pick up from humus-type soil so, along riverbeds, lakes streams, swamp areas are very common areas that they can get exposed to it,” said Dr. Edward Brauer II, Marquette Veterinary Clinic owner.

Dr. Brauer owns the Marquette Veterinary Clinic. He describes what happens once an animal is exposed to the spores.

“Once the organism enters the body, it’s usually inhaled, and it can cause respiratory issues where it can cause fulminating pneumonia. In advanced cases it can get into the neurologic system, it can cause an eye infection, and it also can manifest itself in a dermatologic form which is showing abscesses that will show up on the skin,” Brauer said.

Brauer says symptoms can show up several weeks after initial exposure.

“Usually the most common one is a non-productive cough, a dry coughing problem. A lot of times this can be similar to infectious tracheitis which is kennel cough, or a bronchial pneumonia problem,” Brauer continued.

While people and pets can get blastomycosis, it is not contagious and can be treated.

“Usually once you diagnose the problem, the treatment is using anti-fungal therapy. In most cases, it’s an oral medication that they would go on for several months. Usually it’s about four months minimum of therapy to get rid of it,” Brauer said.

Brauer says it’s best to avoid wet, swampy areas when walking your pets.

“The thing is we know we have dogs that will go swimming in the summer. We have hunting dogs that will go through swamps and along riverbeds it’s kind of an endemic risk factor that we have it, even though the cases are a relatively small percentage that do break with that,” Brauer said.

Brauer also says if you see those symptoms in your pet, schedule an appointment with your vet to have them checked out.