Watching for Blastomycosis

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dougan
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Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

Hello all,

My 5 month old puppy and my sister's 1.5ish year old golden retriever have been frequently playing at my parents new property throughout the summer. It's like the perfect spot for blasto-- sandy, humid, acidic soil, next to a stagnant bog/swamp and lake, recently excavated to build a house.

Anyway, my sister's dog just got diagnosed with blasto. She's a city dweller and this is really the only place she gets into the woods, so it's quite likely it was contracted there while my dog was there too. My dog right now is just as energetic as ever, so I'm not freaking out or anything. But I know it's slow to incubate so I was wondering if there's anything I should be looking for, like early warning signs, or anything that I can to do reduce his chances of getting it?

Also, would you advise we stop bringing him to this place? I know Blasto tends to be something that's localized but I don't really know how long it remains in an area, or how easy it is to contract. My uncle had a dog die a few years ago because of blasto he got in an area where other dogs got blasto as well, but I bet a lot of dogs went through there in that time so I'm not sure if it's something to stay away from or not. I'm not taking any chances right now, of course, but if I happen to be overreacting I'd like to be able to bring him back, he loves it up there.

I have a feeling it's easy to tell when a brittany is sick. I know if I take my puppy out of the crate in the morning and he takes more than 5 seconds to jump all over me, something's probably wrong. :)

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by dougan on Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Cindy
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by Cindy »

I'm so sorry about your sister's dog and certainly hope that you don't have to deal with this. I don't know much about the warning signs etc. so sorry I'm no help. Keep us posted though and hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in here. It's a bit of a worry I have since our dogs spend alot of time in the woods and water.
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dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

A third dog was with them in the same location and I just heard that dog started coughing today, so I think I have a legitimate concern on my hands. I'm going to keep an eye out for coughing too. If the second dog is confirmed for blasto I'll probably try to get my vet to test for it without any symptoms.

Barb Wright
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by Barb Wright »

Sounds like you are in the center of a scary situation developing. You have had enough warning with the other dogs who were in the same area that have become ill.....if it was my dog I would take the pup to the vet for testing NOW. There are several tests that can be done (blood, sputum, urine, etc.). I really wouldn't wait for symptoms to appear when the tests are really not too invasive and would relieve your worries.

That said, an otherwise healthy dog can be cured with treatment, but the sooner the better to find out if the pup is infected.
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dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

Thanks for the input. Luckily I will know soon (today or tomorrow) if my father's dog (the third one) tests positive for blasto, so I think I will wait for those results since it is just one day. If that's positive, I will definitely get aggressive about it. With slow-incubating diseases like blasto, it's possible to test negative for the disease early in the incubation stage so I'm a little nervous about just up and taking my dog in to get tested and hearing he's OK when he's not. What's interesting is that the exposure was very recent and the incubation, from what I understand, usually is longer. Not trying to convince myself that I'm wrong or anything, just interesting.

dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

I called my vet and she pretty much agreed with my plan-- wait for the other dog's tests to come back, and if they are positive, then get aggressive about it. Otherwise just keep an eye out and bring him in at the first sign of it (sores, eye issues, coughing, or all around sick behavior).

Cindy
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by Cindy »

YIKES! This is scary. Fingers and paws crossed for all the dogs. Did anyone put up a sign warning other dog owners about the potential problem?

Just out of curiosity, where do you live? You don't have to be specific - was wondering more about the state/area of the country.
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dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

Cindy-- That's OK, the more info the better. The location was Boulder Junction, WI, which is on the far north part of WI. Specifically Fishtrap Lake, which is a small lake surrounded by a lot of swamp. After this, I've heard people come out of the woodwork to say Fishtrap Lake is a common place to contract Blastomycosis. It's unfortunate that this information was out there but we found out later.

There are other "hot spots" in WI. There was a case a few years ago where > 50 people got it in Marathon County (Central WI), along with some dogs, including my uncle's dog, who died. I don't believe any people died.

Blastomycosis is not even a concern in most parts of the world, but Wisconsin is one of them where it is more common. I know there are other places too. I think it's generally upper midwest and New England, not sure about Canada.

My sister and her dog live in Minneapolis, and even there I was concerned because there is not much for Blasto over there, so I was worried her vets wouldn't even know how to treat it. Even in places where it's "common" it's still a rare disease to contract, so a lot of dogs die because the vets don't check for it until it's too late.

Cindy
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by Cindy »

Well I will certainly pass this info along to my really good friend who has a Brittany and lives in Appleton WI on the Fox River. Interesting, because for some reason, I associated this with hot humid climates (like VA where I live) and not northern areas. But as I said, I don't know much about it!
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dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

Yeah it's something I think more people in WI need to know about. The most occurrences I hear about are in the Eagle River, WI area, and then that outbreak in Marathon county a few years ago. And now Fishtrap Lake. I'm sure there's more areas.

Both of the other dogs' conditions have worsened. The meds take a toll so it may be just that. I'm caving and taking my pup in today to get tested.

brittienewbie
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by brittienewbie »

Thank you for the info. We live in southern WI but have a weekend place near Black River Falls. We wil have to keep an eye on out dogs, a Brit and a terrier. ..always with their noses on the ground. We have a flowing creek but the lowlands are marshy.
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dougan
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Re: Watching for Blastomycosis

Post by dougan »

The first dog is now in-patient hospitalized. I'm just hearing information secondhand but my guess is that the dog will not make it. The blasto meds are really rough on the body and it's going ugly fast.

My Brittany puppy's test came back as a clear negative today. So that was a relief.

The third dog (parent's) test also came back today as positive, but based on how consistent his symptoms were with the first dog, we already knew that. Since we caught it earlier with him I have hopes that he'll make a full recovery.

My advice to everyone here is that if your dog coughs, and you live anywhere near the endemic areas for the disease, get a blastomycosis test first and don't wait. This map isn't exact, either-- for example, my case occurred in that little white sliver at the top of WI. If your dog is sick and you start with the most likely diagnosis and work your way down, by the time you get to testing for blasto, your dog will be too far along to survive treatment, so just test right away. It is a non-invasive urine test and it is not very expensive. Brittanies are big sniffers that cover a lot of ground so they are at a heightened risk for the diesase.

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