BWCA Blastomycosis Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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12/23/2021 01:38PM  
For those of you who have dogs and camp with them I thought I would share a story about ours.
River, our 2 YO German Shepard mix was diagnosed with this fungal disease on October 11th, 2021. What a roller coaster it has been for us with ups and downs during this time, she is showing great improvement, however we will likely be treating her for another few months at least, since it had compromised her lungs. Our dogs symptoms were lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, some respirations of 120+ pm lying down, wheezing and coughing. This is a very serious disease and just wiped out our dog for weeks.

What little I know about Blasto, it appears that it is becoming a more frequent disease the last few years. Humans and other animals can also contract this disease, but is sounds like it is more prevalent in dogs. Even though we camped in the superior NF four times this past summer, we suspect she contracted it from our 2 weeks we spent camping on the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior, or day trips we took to Wisconsin point. (We honestly do not know)

I am sharing this story to help people become aware of this disease, I will provide a couple links about Blasto. Feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer what I know. I think there is also a vet who is a member here.

DHS Wisconsin Blasto

CDC Blastomycosis

Blasto in dogs
 
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Maiingan
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12/23/2021 02:10PM  
Many dogs in the Ely area have gotten blastomycosis. I have been noticing more cases in the recent years. However, the area has also seen a mass migration of people. Many with their dogs.
 
12/24/2021 10:23AM  
Thanks for posting this Lindentree. I’ll make a note to discuss with my vet at out next checkup. Good luck with River’s recovery.
 
12/24/2021 11:46AM  
A firefighting buddy of mines dog has it worse than ours, he is from Mountain WI, his dog now has eye issues. This disease affects the body in many ways, one is the potential for blindness as Blasto takes hold in the eyes and medications are not good at clearing it out of there. If any of you are on facebook there is a group called Blastomycosis awareness forum - canine, you have to be accepted into the group. It has some great information with many people relaying their experience with Blasto and their pets, it has at least one veterinarian who posts.
 
12/24/2021 12:45PM  
Good information Linden. I hope River has a good recovery. She has a lot of camping to do!
 
carbon1
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
 
12/24/2021 03:56PM  
I have heard of a few dogs that have had it. It has been around a long time first cases I heard of 30 plus years ago.

I have known two people who had one dies from it one lived after a long hospital stay.

I decided I would not pay to have dog treated for it. It is not always successful and cost a lot.

I would just put them down.

I have own a lot of dogs.

It comes down to economics for me.

Dogs are not people.
 
12/24/2021 05:34PM  
carbon1: "I have heard of a few dogs that have had it. It has been around a long time first cases I heard of 30 plus years ago.


I have known two people who had one dies from it one lived after a long hospital stay.


I decided I would not pay to have dog treated for it. It is not always successful and cost a lot.


I would just put them down.


I have own a lot of dogs.


It comes down to economics for me.


Dogs are not people."


We are probabaly near $1,200 now for treatment, it will most likely cost $2,000 or more to get her to a Zero/Hero. Meaning she needs to have zero Blasto Antigens in her system to be considered Blasto free, God willing. This is on the cheap side compared to some people/dogs I am reading about.
 
12/25/2021 10:02PM  
carbon1: "Dogs are not people."

Mine are.
 
12/25/2021 10:04PM  
I remember a few years ago someone posted about hiking with their dog on the Laurentian Trail somewhere near Virginia, MN. His dog got blasto and apparently there were even warning signs at the trail head about blasto there.

Hope your pooch recovers well. Thank you for caring enough to do so.
 
jillpine
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12/25/2021 10:08PM  
LindenTree,
So sorry to hear this news. Blastomycosis is a serious fungal infection, and above all, no way your fault or negligence. I’m so sorry. I hope your dog fully recovers soon - it is possible. And it is not inexpensive, as noted.

Folks, regardless of how you may choose to value your dog’s / dogs’ lives, understand that this fungus lives in the duff all over certain geographic locales. It may or may not be on the radar of your veterinarian for your ADR (ain’t doing right) dog. It is helpful if you tell your vet that you camp with your dog. In Minnesota, it is a reportable disease.

So sorry, LindenTree. Best wishes for a strong and full recovery,

JP (dvm)
 
12/26/2021 10:36AM  
Thanks Jillpine, I didn't realize you were a DVM. River is doing much better and even we can't see signs that she is sick now. We will continue treatment until she comes back with zero antigens. We are 2.5 months into treatment so far.
 
12/26/2021 04:14PM  
I hope your dog makes a complete recovery, LindenTree. Dogs are family, and their lives are precious.
 
12/26/2021 05:07PM  
OneMatch: "carbon1: "Dogs are not people."


Mine are."


+1
 
12/26/2021 06:22PM  
arctic: "I hope your dog makes a complete recovery, LindenTree. Dogs are family, and their lives are precious." +1
 
12/26/2021 06:55PM  
A pic of River a couple weeks before her diagnosis on the shore of Lake Michigan. River is a rescue dog from Kentucky, flown up to MN by Pilots and Paws.
Her brother (Ember) in the photo was rescued from a Reservation in South Dakota.

 
jillpine
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12/26/2021 08:10PM  
LindenTree: "A pic of River a couple weeks before her diagnosis on the shore of Lake Michigan. River is a rescue dog from Kentucky, flown up to MN by Pilots and Paws.
Her brother (Ember) in the photo was rescued from a Reservation in South Dakota.


"


Always admired that name, Ember. River also a terrific name.
She will beat this, LindenTree. She’s already beaten a million to one odds by being your dog. She’s got this!
 
KawnipiKid
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12/26/2021 08:13PM  
Lindentree, Thanks for taking good care of those pups. Parts of NW Wisconsin and NE Minnesota are Blasto hot spots for dogs and humans. Back in the 80's I heard it referred to as Namekagon fever because of its prevalence in the soil of the Namekagon River valley. While it's thankfully rare overall, it's much more prevalent in parts of the WI and MN north woods than in most of its range. If you can't shake a fever and cough and its not COVID or otherwise clear what's going on, tell your doc about how much time you spend in the woods.
 
12/26/2021 09:18PM  
OneMatch: "carbon1: "Dogs are not people."


Mine are."


So are mine.

 
12/27/2021 08:14AM  
Nope, they may not be “people” but they are in your care. We do have to make hard choices sometimes... my current dog I rescued I was her only hope... the shelter was being pressured to put her down. I almost let it happen after a couple incidents. But I saw something there... I’ve worked with her and she’s a different dog. She’s so much more in control... then she was what I call a garbage dog... we’d stop at truck stops and she’d get into something and end up with worms. I’ve had to work with her on that (besides the treatment).
She got into mouse poison... luckily my neighbor recognized it right away she was missing a bunch right after we left. I had to make her throw it up... and wow she’d eaten a lot. (She excels at that)... plus make her take activated charcoal... then a year ago she got real sick... so much pain (mid January) and I though it had something to do with a condition she had previously. To get her in my truck we used a peds board from the firehall. Strapped her down and away I went. The vet figured lymes... did I mention this was January. I’d just got back early from Arizona. In November I had had both Lymes and covid at the same time myself. Sure enough she not only had Lymes but all three main tick born diseases. She was given a much more aggressive dose of what I had got of the exact same pills. And it took all summer and into fall before she got where she’s doing quite well. Her tick collar had come off in September and I figured it was not needed seeing how it was cold and snowy and all early on. Yes it cost some... but she’s my responsibility. No she’s not human... but she’s taught me more about life then any human ever did! Just like old Bernice, she responds with me to fire calls, she watches over the kids at the beach I live by... would love to be a canoe dog... you put a canoe in the water and she’s in it ready to go. I’m horrible at trimming her nails... lately she sat and chewed/ trimmed her own nails. Haha. Calling a dog people in my opinion is putting a dog down a bit. Haha! They really do deserve all we can do for them in my opinion. We’re in the desert dispersed camping for the winter. What a joy to have. Blasto is also a concern down here... Don’t think for a minute I put her before a human life... but that’s how I see life in general. Our neighbor at home has a golden with blasto... he’s responding well to treatment and like River is doing better but not totally out of the woods. If you have a dog you should already have a vet you can trust... this is important! Then you can justify trusting your putting your money to good use in saving your dog. Animal shelters, vets, and other care givers do a great service. And Linden and Krista have made a great home for both Ember and River... so get well soon River, we’ll be up there camping before you know it! Take care Linden!
 
rtallent
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12/27/2021 01:01PM  
Thanks Ben, great words. Enjoy the southwest!
 
12/28/2021 07:40AM  
I posted this story on Facebook, two of my past coworkers from the Tofte RD replied that one or two of Sawbill outfitters dogs contracted Blasto. They didn't offer when this happened.

Thanks for the kind words Ben, it's looking more like I will be joining you in the desert in a month or so.
 
jillpine
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12/28/2021 09:47AM  
Blastomycosis information, as well as links to both human and animal distribution in MN (1999 - 2020) , per MN Dept. of Health (scroll down for animal data):
blastomycosis information

The only means of prevention is to remove your dog's access from the areas where the fungal spores reside - largely unrealistic for those of us living and recreating in endemic regions.

My deceased best-dog-ever yellow Lab aged out of canoe tripping a few years back. Blasto was something always on my mind when she went with me, but it was a risk I was willing to take, just as with other risks we take when we're out there. Also, I reconciled tripping with her with the fact that she could also become infected when running through the forests and fields of home, given that it is endemic at both my home places. My personal preference is to not sleep directly on the ground in a bivouac set-up for reasons of wet, cold, mice, and blasto.

Linden, I am not a gambler, but my bet is that River will pull out of this, and will live to see many wonderful adventures with your family. And, as a bonus, your post likely raised some awareness for other paddlers on the forum who may now see their veterinarian with a dog experiencing some vague clinical signs, and think to mention blastomycosis. A lightbulb will go off in the over-worked veterinarian's tired brain, and early detection will result in a positive clinical outcome!

 
12/28/2021 10:37AM  
Jillpine, we also do not think it is feasible to avoid the areas we love due to Blasto concerns, even if it was/is possible due to us living in Duluth. My wife who is a RN told her co-workers about Blastomycosis in our dog. Some of them were familiar with humans that had contracted it and they replied something like "oh boy, this is serious".
 
Canoearoo
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12/28/2021 11:11AM  
There is a natural treatment for this- Colloidal Silver. Now I don't want to debate natural treatments, that is not the point of this post. But here is what happened to me, to make me recommend it. My neighbor was an organic farmer. One year she caught a fungus infection in her ear. The docs tried the basic stuff but it wasn't working. The fungus spread and began to eat her ear away. She went through 2 surgeries where they removed her ear and scrapped the fungus off the bones in her head. The fungus continued to spread and they couldn't stop it. Finally, it started to attack her brain and they decided they had done all they could do and so they set up hospice for her. I had been using Colloidal sliver for pink eye and simple infections over the years and I had read that it can fight fungus. She told me the Docs didn't know how much longer she would live and so I asked her if she wanted to try Colloidal siliver. She said she had nothing to lose. So I got her a big quart of it and brought it to her. She put it on her wounds, and in the wound and drank it every day. In a week she started to feel better. She went to the docs and found her fungus was retreateing. She made a full recovery in a month. Obviously, she lost her hearing on that side of her head, but she is alive and well 10 years later. So maybe try Colloidal Silver for you dog. It might help.
 
12/28/2021 11:54AM  
Canoearoo: "There is a natural treatment for this- Colloidal Silver. Now I don't want to debate natural treatments, that is not the point of this post. But here is what happened to me, to make me recommend it. My neighbor was an organic farmer. One year she caught a fungus infection in her ear. The docs tried the basic stuff but it wasn't working. The fungus spread and began to eat her ear away. She went through 2 surgeries where they removed her ear and scrapped the fungus off the bones in her head. The fungus continued to spread and they couldn't stop it. Finally, it started to attack her brain and they decided they had done all they could do and so they set up hospice for her. I had been using Colloidal sliver for pink eye and simple infections over the years and I had read that it can fight fungus. She told me the Docs didn't know how much longer she would live and so I asked her if she wanted to try Colloidal siliver. She said she had nothing to lose. So I got her a big quart of it and brought it to her. She put it on her wounds, and in the wound and drank it every day. In a week she started to feel better. She went to the docs and found her fungus was retreateing. She made a full recovery in a month. Obviously, she lost her hearing on that side of her head, but she is alive and well 10 years later. So maybe try Colloidal Silver for you dog. It might help."

I know people that use silver on the dogs external wounds when Blasto is infecting the body and it seems to help, in conjunction with Fluconazole or another similar drug. I have not heard anything about silver healing the Blasto itself. My dog had it in her lungs, but she had no external lesions. Her 2nd lung xray about 6 weeks after diagnosis showed around a 50% reduction in lungs. Her Antigen level at diagnosis was 6.2 on a scale of 0 - to 14.7 being the highest. Antigen levels above 14.7 are not able to be detected at the Miravista lab which is the only lab in north America that tests the urine for Blasto.
 
blutofish1
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12/31/2021 09:13AM  
plander: "OneMatch: "carbon1: "Dogs are not people."



Mine are."
+2


+1"
 
07/29/2022 05:26PM  
Here is a Vimeo video done of one MD and two DVM's discussing Blastomycosis in the humans and dogs. Mostly discussing the area around Michigan and the UP but it also shows the whole areas that Blasto is prevalent in the US. MN, Wisconsin and Michigan are hotbeds for this fungal disease, Illinois is also a hot spot. Watch the first 5 minutes then skip to minute 30 if you are just interested in Blasto in dogs and not humans.

Side note. Our GSD River has been on treatment for 10 months now. She is still positive according to her last antigen test but below level of quantification. She will most likely be on treatments for 12 months when this is over. It is deadly for 25% of all dogs that are known to have contracted Blasto.

Vimeo. Blastomycosis
 
07/31/2022 10:40AM  
thanks for the update on River. As I was skimming the thread once again, I was hoping for a good outcome. Looks like River is going to be ok - even after a really long treatment. Thanks for giving River all the best.
 
08/02/2022 02:36PM  
Wow Linden... didn’t realize she was still fighting this. Glad Ember is doing ok.
 
GregSC
member (24)member
 
08/05/2022 12:36PM  
 
GregSC
member (24)member
 
08/05/2022 12:36PM  
OneMatch: "carbon1: "Dogs are not people."


Mine are."
Mine too
 
Ho Ho
distinguished member(2407)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2022 08:40PM  
Hi LindenTree, thanks for raising this topic, it's something that all people who bring dogs to the Boundary Waters should be aware of - and also many other places in the upper midwest.

I'm really glad to hear River is almost completely recovered. I'm really sorry to hear it has been such a long fight. And of course an expensive one.

We live outside Ely and our dog also contracted Blasto last year, but she was able to get clear of it in only 1.5 months of treatment, which was extraordinarily lucky, but also I think, because it was caught early. The Ely area is a blasto hotspot, and the Ely vets will almost always test for blasto whenever a dog is doing poorly. I think they treat more cases of blasto than any other vet clinic anywhere, partly because there is a higher incidence here, but also because they actually test for it and correctly diagnose it so often. It's often misdiagnosed elsewhere, which makes it worse because the correct treatment is delayed, and the wrong treatments for other diseases can actually do a lot of harm (e.g., antibiotics help the fungus thrive by killing off the competition).

Since we live outside Ely and our dog also always has her nose to the ground, we knew she was at risk of contracting blasto at some point. Finally, at 9 and half years old, she did. We were out west in the Cascades when the symptoms started showing up - in her case basically a dry cough that got worse pretty quickly. On a Saturday morning we knew she needed veterinary treatment, but could not find anyone that could see her immediately in western Washington. Also, since we suspected blasto, we were concerned that a Washington vet might not have much knowledge about the disease.

Fortunately we were able to call the Ely vets and talk to them about the issue. Once it was clear we could not get treatment during the weekend in Washington, we decided to speed home (still a three day drive). In the meantime, the Ely vet prescribed the antifungals which we were able to get filled at a Walmart pharmacy east of the Cascades. Our vet thought blasto was likely enough that we should start treatment and we would confirm with a test when we got home.

Once home, the blasto test was positive. Our vet told us that our dog would need to take the anti-fungal meds for at least 4.5 months because that is the minimum time they have seen for recovery. Normally they will not even retest before that time. But our girl recovered very quickly - she was asymptomatic within 10 days - and so they decided to retest her after a month and a half. Miraculously, she was clear of blasto. Our vet was blown away by the quickness of the recovery.

No doubt luck played a role in her quick recovery. But the vet also thought early treatment at the very onset of the illness probably also made a big difference. So if your dog has unexplained symptoms and you have been to the BW or another area with blasto, insist to your vet that they test for blasto any time there is a mysterious illness. Vets in other areas often will not even think of this disease. Early detection and treatment is key.

PS - People get blasto too, not as often as dogs, since we mostly don't stick our noses in the soil (I believe human cases usually come from areas like construction sites where the soil is disturbed and the spores may be windbound). And misdiagnosis is also common in people. Someone I know in Ely told me his son almost died from blasto because it was not diagnosed for a long time. So this is something to keep in mind for human medical treatment too.
 
Ho Ho
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08/10/2022 09:05PM  
This message has had HTML content edited out of it.
PS - I forgot to include a picture of our blasto patient Piwi (short for Kahshahpiwi). This picture was taken in Bighorn Mountains last month, about a year after her miraculously speedy recovery from blasto. I'm not at all biased when I say she is the prettiest dog in the world
 
08/10/2022 09:25PM  
This message has had HTML content edited out of it.
Ho Ho: "PS - I forgot to include a picture of our blasto patient Piwi (short for Kahshahpiwi). This picture was taken in Bighorn Mountains last month, about a year after her miraculously speedy recovery from blasto. I'm not at all biased when I say she is the prettiest dog in the world "

She's also just about the sweetest. :-)
 
08/11/2022 09:39AM  
HO HO, pretty puppy. I'm so glad your pup has recovered from Blasto, it is truly a terrible disease. I'm surprised you knew about Blasto ahead of time, so many do not. I only had heard of it, but knew next to nothing about the disease. If you follow facebook there is a Blasto forum called "Blastomycosis Canine" I think you would have some good information to share with that group. People post about one or two dogs dying each week in that forum. Blasto also causes many dogs to lose their vision. We use goodrx to get our prescription price lowered, even with that we will be into the 3,000 dollar range when River is fully recovered. River is on Fluconazole a slower acting antifungal med for Blasto rather than Itraconazole.
Best of wishes to you and your pup.

Linden
 
Ho Ho
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08/11/2022 10:14PM  
Linden Tree - Best luck to you and River too! Hopefully you have lots of happy fun together ahead of you!
 
blutofish1
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08/12/2022 07:45AM  
OneMatch: "carbon1: "Dogs are not people."


Mine are."
Mine also
 
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