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Back in 2017, the Midwest was alerted of a fungal infection on the rise in the region that could negatively impact the health of dogs. 

According to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Veterinary Medicine, “The unsuspecting victim inhales microscopic spores, which travel from the lungs throughout the body causing disease. It may sound like something out of science fiction, but the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis—the agent responsible for the systemic infection blastomycosis—is commonly found right here in the Midwest.”

While it’s been reported as a common concern for dog residents of the Midwest, blastomycosis is no stranger to other regions of the United States and Canada. The VCA reports:

In the United States, the disease is most prevalent in the warm, moist environment found along the Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, St. Lawrence, and Mississippi River valleys. It is very common in the Southeastern United States. Blastomycosis has also been diagnosed in the Middle Atlantic States, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and southern Great Lakes.

Dogs aren’t the only ones affected. Humans and cats are also susceptible to blastomycosis, but the fact stands that dogs are even more susceptible to this fungal infection with sports dogs at greater risk. 

Here are some signs of blastomycosis to keep an eye out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Draining skin lesions
  • Respiratory inconsistencies & distress
  • Inflammation of the testicles
  • Seizures
  • Coughing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

Another thing worth noted is that certain degrees of this blastomycosis infection can cause sudden blindness. 

In order to diagnose blastomycosis, the veterinarian’s office may do a cytology and/or histopathology. A cytology is when the veterinarian’s office examines cells in fluids obtained from an open or drained wound while a histopathology is a tissue sample cell examination. Now, the diagnosis for this is tricky. VCA also reports that many reports from these tests come back positive, but doesn’t necessarily mean the diagnosis is blastomycosis. 

“To complicate matters further, up to 30% of dogs with blastomycosis lack measurable serum antibodies at the time of initial evaluation. If Blastomyces dermatitidis organisms are subsequently identified by cytology or histopathology, the veterinary clinician is left in a challenging position.” - VCA

If you find yourself in this position, concerned about yourself of your fur babies having blastomycosis, VCA recommends asking your veterinarian about EIA, or enzyme immunoassay, which is a newer antigen test that can be done. Availability is not widespread so if your veterinarian doesn’t have the test available, ask for referrals. 

If your dog is diagnosed with this fungal infection, there are treatments available. We don’t want to cause alarm, but not all treatments will be successful and the longer it’s waited out, the results can be ultimately fatal. As your veterinarian about the most commonly used antifungal treatments for dogs with less risk.

This is just a sampling of tips and informational posts we offer at Joyride Harness. You can find more content including tips and tricks and how-tos for caring for your dog on our blog at this section. Feel free to leave a comment with tips you’re looking for!
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