Illinois Dogs Can Be at Risk for Blastomycosis Infection

Blastomycosis is endemic to Illinois and other parts of the Midwest. It is a fungal infection caused by a type of fungus known as Blastomyces dermatitidis, and mainly affects dogs and people. The fungus is most commonly found in sandy soil near bodies of fresh water, and areas with a high concentration of organic matter in the soil (decaying wood byproducts, animal waste) such as forests, farms, and swamps.

Because a dog generally explores its surroundings with its nose to the ground, their risk for blastomycosis infection is high.

Which Dogs Are Most at Risk?

Non-neutered dogs between 2-4 years old living in endemic areas are most at risk for infection. They are more likely to roam around, sniffing at and/or digging in the soil. This greatly increases their exposure to the disease-causing fungus. Sporting and hunting dogs are also at a heightened risk for this reason.

How Infection Occurs

Infection occurs when a dog inhales spores from soil contaminated by Blastomyces dermatitidis. After being inhaled, this organism may change into a yeast form and infect the lungs. Other common infection sites include the lymph nodes, bones, skin, and eyes.

Clinical Signs

Signs of infection are varied and non-specific, making diagnosis difficult. It’s important to seek treatment for your pet right away if you notice any of these changes:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Eye inflammation
  • Skin lesions
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing

Treating Blastomycosis

It may take several weeks after infection for your pet to start showing clinical signs. When they do appear, make be sure to contact us immediately. Blastomycosis is not a condition that will go away on its own, and it can be very harmful to your pet’s health.

To diagnose blastomycosis, we may need to do urine testing, chest X-rays, and a biopsy. Diagnosis can be difficult, which is why we may need to consider several options. Furthermore, treatment should be prompt and aggressive, and will likely involve the use of antifungal medication. Communication with your veterinarian is key during the treatment process to ensure that your pet recovers properly.

Prevention is Better for Your Pet’s Health

While treatment for blastomycosis is possible, preventing infection altogether is ideal. Be mindful about where you take your pet for walks, and make sure they are always on a leash. Have your pet examined regularly by their veterinarian and always call us immediately if you notice any health changes. We want you and your pet to enjoy a long, happy life together, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!