Veterinarians advise pet owners about rare fungal infections that can affect pets

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC/Gray News) – Veterinarians are advising pet owners of a potential fungal infection that can affect pets as warmer temperatures are approaching.

WLUC reports that cases of blastomycosis, a rare fungal infection, continued to rise in northern Michigan after a paper mill worker’s death.

According to The Associated Press, a worker at the Escanaba Billerud Paper Mill died last month as a result of a blastomycosis infection.

And health officials are reminding pet owners that the rare fungal infection can also affect pets.

“Blastomycosis is a fungal organism that animals can pick up from humus-type soil. So, riverbeds, lakes, streams, and swamp areas are very common areas that they can get exposed to,” Dr. Edward Brauer II, Marquette Veterinary Clinic owner, said.

Brauer said once an animal is exposed, it can suffer several health issues.

“The organism is usually inhaled, and it can cause respiratory issues. In advanced cases, it can get into the neurological system, causing an eye infection or showing itself in abscesses on the skin,” Brauer said.

According to Brauer, symptoms can show up several weeks after the initial exposure.

“Usually, the most common is a dry cough. A lot of times this can be similar to kennel cough, or a bronchial pneumonia problem,” he said.

While people and pets can get blastomycosis, it is not contagious and can be treated.

“Usually, once you diagnose the problem, the treatment is using anti-fungal therapy. In most cases, it’s an oral medication for four months minimum to get rid of it,” Brauer said.

The veterinary clinic owner advised pet owners to avoid wet, swampy areas when walking their pets.

“We know we have dogs that will go swimming in the summer. We have hunting dogs that will go through swamps and be along riverbeds. It’s a risk factor that we have,” Brauer said.

The veterinarian said if pet owners see any symptoms in their animals to schedule an appointment at their clinic and have them checked out.

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