Sev­eral cases of fun­gal in­fec­tion have af­fected dogs in Swift Cur­rent

Southwest Booster - - NEWS - > Dr. Ali­son El­tom DVM

Blas­to­my­co­sis is a sys­temic fun­gal in­fec­tion caused by Blas­to­myces der­mati­tidis. In ad­di­tion to be­ing found in the Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri, and Ohio River Val­leys, it has also been found in south­ern Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba, On­tario, and Que­bec. Sev­eral cases have been di­ag­nosed in Swift Cur­rent.

Since the fun­gus thrives in richly or­ganic soil ad­ja­cent to wa­ter, it is sus­pected that the lo­cal cases have been in­fected near the Swift Cur­rent Creek. This dis­ease is usu­ally seen in young, male, large breed sport­ing dogs due to their in­creased ex­po­sure to po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nated ar­eas. How­ever, any breed, sex or age of dog can be in­fected if ex­posed to the fun­gal spores. Cats and hu­mans can also be in­fected, but seem to be less sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tion com­pared with dogs.

Di­rect trans­mis­sion from an in­fected an­i­mal to an­other an­i­mal or hu­man is un­likely, al­though lo­cal in­fec­tion can oc­cur if bit­ten by an in­fected an­i­mal.

In­fec­tion usu­ally be­gins in the lungs through in­hala­tion of the mi­cro­scopic spores. It then spreads to other or­gans in the body through the blood. In­fec­tion can also oc­cur due to con­tam­i­na­tion of an open wound with spores from the en­vi­ron­ment.

Symp­toms are var­ied and may in­clude cough­ing, dif­fi­culty breath­ing, ex­er­cise in­tol­er­ance, fever, poor ap­petite, weight loss, lethargy, and skin or eye le­sions. How­ever, th­ese symp­toms are not spe­cific to this dis­ease and can oc­cur in a large num­ber of other dis­eases or ail­ments. A num­ber of tests are re­quired to con­firm the di­ag­no­sis. They in­clude blood tests, chest x-rays, a spe­cial­ized test looking at fluid re­cov­ered from the lung and/or a spe­cial­ized urine test.

Al­though blas­to­my­co­sis can be treated, it may be fa­tal in ad­vanced cases. Treat­ment re­quires a min­i­mum of four months of oral an­ti­fun­gal med­i­ca­tion, in ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar blood tests to check for liver prob­lems that can oc­cur with the use of this med­i­ca­tion. Reg­u­lar chest x-rays are also re­quired to mon­i­tor the pet’s re­sponse to treat­ment. Prog­no­sis for re­cov­ery is de­pen­dent on the or­gans in­volved and the abil­ity to treat the in­fec­tion for a long enough du­ra­tion. Re­lapse is pos­si­ble in 20 per cent of dogs once the treat­ment has stopped.

Un­for­tu­nately, at this time, there is no vac­cine to pre­vent this dis­ease. There­fore, the best method of preven­tion is to avoid po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nated ar­eas. Given that there are no re­li­able ways to iden­tify or re­move the fun­gus from the soil, it can only be rec­om­mended to avoid lakes and creeks in ar­eas where the dis­ease is known to oc­cur.

Since there have been sev­eral con­firmed cases in Swift Cur­rent, it is best to not al­low your pets to play in or near the Swift Cur­rent Creek or any other bodies of wa­ter in the Swift Cur­rent area.

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