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Blastomycosis: what it is

Blastomycosis is a fungal infection caused by the organism Blastomyces dermatitidis. This fungus is found in the environment, particularly in soil, decaying wood, and damp areas, primarily in certain regions of the United States and Canada, such as the Mississippi, Ohio, and St. Lawrence River valleys, as well as the Great Lakes region.

Dogs can acquire blastomycosis by inhaling fungal spores present in the environment. Once inhaled, the spores can lodge in the lungs, where they initiate an infection. From there, the infection can potentially spread to other organs, such as the skin, bones, and other tissues.

Clinical signs and diagnosis

Clinical signs of blastomycosis in dogs can vary but often include respiratory symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever. Other common signs may include lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, and skin lesions. In severe cases, blastomycosis can lead to systemic illness and can be fatal if left untreated.

Diagnosis of blastomycosis typically involves a combination of clinical signs, imaging studies (such as chest radiographs), and laboratory tests to detect the organism or its antigens in affected tissues or bodily fluids (urine).

Treatment and prevention

Treatment typically involves antifungal medications such as itraconazole or fluconazole, which are administered for an extended period, often several months. In severe cases or when the disease has spread to other organs, more aggressive treatment with amphotericin B may be necessary. Supportive care, including addressing respiratory or other complications, may also be needed.

Prevention of blastomycosis in dogs primarily involves avoiding exposure to areas where the fungus is known to be prevalent, although this may not always be possible in endemic regions. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to improving outcomes for dogs affected by blastomycosis.

Resources: ChatGPT

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