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Warning about a fungus dangerous to dogs

September 15th, 2005, 09:49 PM
Beware of fungus, dog owner warns

Sep 14, 2005
John Slykhuis, Staff Writer - More from this author

It began when they went camping last year near a river in Muskoka.

Within a few weeks Alice Berger noticed some behavioural changes in Cujo, her retriever-lab cross.

"Cujo seemed depressed, coughed a few times and was less enthusiastic on our walks. He began to lose his appetite," Ms Berger said.

Little did she know, two-year-old Cujo inhaled deadly spores from a fungus in the soil.

She took him to a vet who at first thought he had a virus and put the dog on antibiotics. It didn't work. Cujo became more listless.

His eyes darkened and he lost his appetite. This time, the vet said Cujo had a slight fever and could have an inflamed pancreas. More antibiotics.

Cujo's deterioration continued and Ms Berger became alarmed. He was losing more weight and seemed to sleep most of the time.

"We returned to the vet's and by now Cujo could not eat or drink. He had become very thin," she said. With a temperature of 103, the vet kept Cujo for a day of tests and x-rays.

Nothing was found, but his white blood count was elevated. Could be meningitis, he said.

More medication.

"Nothing seemed to be working," Ms Berger said. "Cujo kept getting worse. He'd lost 10 pounds and now had a constant fever. He was not eating or drinking anything. He looked awful and he felt awful."

Two weeks later, she was back to the vet with Cujo who prescribed some medication in an attempt to help his appetite.

"That evening Cujo had made it through the day with his first dose of medication. I let him out the front door.

He slowly went down the stairs and trotted across the front yard and bumped into a pile of leaves. Cujo was going blind.

"I began crying because my best friend was really ill and no one knew what was wrong with him," she said.

She took Cujo into Global Pets in Keswick where she was urged to get a second opinion. The second vet also suggested it could be meningitis and to continue with the medication. Nothing worked.

"Cujo deteriorated really quickly. He was having difficulty breathing, moving; he did not want to go outside anymore and he was almost completely blind," she said.

Friday, October 29. Cujo had a rough night

"He lay on my pillow all night so I could keep an eye on him. We were awake all night cuddling, trying to make him comfortable. I knew time was running out."

The next morning she rushed back to the vet with Cujo who took an X-ray of his lungs. That's when they finally found out what was wrong.

Cujo had blastomycosis, a rare fungal infection. His lungs had been destroyed. There was no hope, the vet said.

"We said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses. I held Cujo in my arms. He just looked at me and slowly fell asleep. Cujo was out of pain and on his way to a new journey."

Blastomycosis is produced from a mold growing in moist soil, vegetation and near waterways. The fungus is short-lived due to climatic conditions, so that makes it tough to identify a contaminated area.

Spores become airborne when the soil is disturbed and are inhaled by animals or humans. Once the spores enter the lungs they transform into a yeast that multiplies in the lungs and other parts of the body.

Humans can be susceptible if they inhale the spores, but incidents are rare.

Symptoms are a persistent cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, stiffness and weight loss. Treatment is by antibiotics.

It is not contagious, so humans can't catch it from their dogs.

For dogs, symptoms include oozing sores, signs of depression, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, coughing, enlarged lymph glands, loss of sight and seizures.

Diagnosis is done through testing with a study of cells taken from an open wound.

Testing and treatment can cost thousands of dollars and there is no guarantee of survival.

Blastomycosis has been found in several eastern and central U.S. states. Now, Ontario is beginning to observe cases.

If you suspect your dog has blastomycosis, contact a veterinarian immediately.

For more information, use the Google Internet search engine for blastomycosis and several websites will appear that are relevant to humans and dogs.

September 15th, 2005, 10:00 PM
I don't know how you would prevent it- all the pics I have found are all microscopic fungi... Not easy to see..

Here's a map of the area it's found that I found from here:

September 15th, 2005, 10:02 PM
Here's a picture taken with a microscope... From here: