Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that is common in our area, and unfortunately seems to be even more common in our neighborhood. We have had 3 cases of Blastomycosis in the less-than-a-year that we have been open. Blasto is a mold that lives in the soil and in decaying leaf litter, usually within close proximity to a source of water. If forms spores which are inhaled into the lungs. At body temperature the mold spores turn into yeast and can spread throughout the body. Most of the time Blasto will cause small non-healing sores in the skin or will cause a cough. Sometimes it presents as limping, when the yeast invades bones and causes lesions that can be mistaken for cancer on an x-ray. Blasto can also infect the eyes and cause a loss of vision.
Dogs are most commonly affected by Blasto since they spend a lot of time sniffing close the ground where the spores are present. But people can also be infected, and so can cats that venture outside. The picture above is a view through the microscope of Blasto yeasts surrounded by white blood cells taken from a skin lesion of a cat that we saw last week.
If there are skin lesions, it is a simple matter of looking under the microscope for the tell-tale yeasts. If there are no skin lesions, we look in the eyes, and we may take x-rays of the lungs and/or bones. There is a urine test that can be sent to the lab to determine whether lesions see in the eyes or by x-ray are due to Blasto.
The treatment for Blasto is long term treatment with anti-fungal medication. However, if the infection is not caught early and spreads to the lungs, it can cause severe pneumonia which may be fatal even with treatment. Therefore, we encourage anyone with a pet that has unusual skin lesions, unexpected limping, coughing or changes in breathing pattern, or sudden loss of vision, to bring the pet into the clinic quickly for a check up.
If you have any questions about Blasto (or anything else), please call us a the clinic at 847-934-5530.