A walk with your dog, pretty much anywhere in Algoma, could find you dealing with Blasto.
According to Bev Wierzbicki, whose beloved pet Toby has contracted Blastomycosis, says she knows at least 3 other owners who are dealing with this infection in their pets. She also knows of one human who has contracted it.
Toby initially presented with various symptoms, which at first seemed like allergies, but Wierzbicki praises her vet at Black Road Veterinary for knowing what it was, quickly.
“Toby first appeared as lethargic. He didn’t want to eat, drink, he’d go off to be alone, (unusual for a puppy) anti-social, followed by laboured breathing and then lameness in his left back leg,” said Wierzbicki. “Because of all the pollen the neighbours all told me it was probably allergies but after a few days I took him to the vet. They x-rayed his lungs and his left lung was a mass of white. It could have been pneumonia but because I go to the Black Rd Vets they knew as well as I did that, because I live at Pointe Louise, it was likely to be blasto. We have 3 other dogs here with it.”
According to Ernest Ward, DVM, Infectious Disease for VCA Canada, it’s a disease of the respiratory tract.
“Blastomycosis is a fungal disease caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis. This fungus most commonly infects humans and animals through the respiratory tract. When the fungal spores are inhaled, they settle in the small airways and begin to reproduce,” said Ward on the VCA website. “The organism then spreads throughout the body and may infect other organs. Rarely, infection occurs through contamination of an open wound.”
Wierzbicki approached Algoma Public Health about warning the public and other dog owners, knowing that the fungus is active in our area.
“I called Algoma Public Health to ask if they could put out some sort of info package on the website to let people know the symptoms of this horrible disease but, so far, nothing,” she posted on Facebook. “I was informed that Algoma Public Health stopped following cases and reporting hot spots.”
SaultOnline has reached out to APH to see if they could provide further information on the disease and we have yet to receive a response.
Because Toby is under 30 lbs, it costs Bev about $170 a month for the treatment and he will need it for a minimum of 3 months. She wants people to be aware the fungus is natural to the area and although you can’t prevent your dog from getting it, knowing the signs may save their life in the end.