Dog owner warns others of local disease

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The billions of goose feces that blanket the waterfront lawns and walkways for months on end that dry up and get distributed in the wind continuously are certainly not helping. The GROSS walkways should be power washed daily.

  2. I contracted blastomycosis 25 years ago and nearly died. I was living on Maple Street and did a lot of gardening which is where the doctors thought that I ingested the fungal spore. It took a lot of doctors and many antibiotics before Dr. Berg diagnosed what I had and put me on an anti fungal medication. I was off work for 3 months and had to live with my parents to help take care of me and my 4 year old son.

    I contacted the Algoma Health Unit and they said that they would take my information but would not make it known to the public. It seems that not much has changed over the years.

  3. Thank you Dan for giving your time for this article.
    Little, medium and large alike must be outside in summer time and enjoy the environment and the weather, but safe and protected and this news do a lot for the community, mostly in the Soo with a large sector of the population aging and having a pet companion.
    There is a problem with the birds as well, a virus going around and I read in the news that the public is advised to remove the bird feeders as there is a chance that the diseases are spread through the seeds from the feeders.

    • Empty bird baths too. I’ve noticed a lot fewer birds the past month or so and was wondering why until I read about the bug affecting them.

  4. Thanks Bev, hope you are doing ok. I have a German Shepherd 8 years old & this is good to know. Your friend & passed fellow employees @ Sault College.

    Bill

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