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health news articles: MN Department of Health: Rise in rare fungal infection cases

health news articles Desk:

ST PAUL, Minnesota — The Minnesota Department of Health is seeing a rise in cases of a rare fungal infection.

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Blastomycosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Blastomyces. It can affect humans and animals. The fungus is found in soil, especially in moist, wooded areas and along waterways. People and animals get sick from it by breathing in the spores.

So far in 2019, there have been 61 human cases in the state and 182 animal cases.

According to Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Health, a normal amount per year is about 35 cases in humans and 65 cases in animals.

Horses and cats can be affected by blastomycosis but it most commonly affects dogs.

Joni Scheftel said MDH isn’t sure what’s behind the uptick but it could be because of wet weather and flooding this year.

“What happens with fungal organisms is they can proliferate in wet, under wet circumstances. And then when it dries out, they can get into the air and people can breathe them in,” Scheftel explained.

In Minnesota, cases of blastomycosis most commonly come from the northeastern counties.

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At Ely Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Jennifer Freking said they’ve seen 16 dogs so far this year with blastomycosis. That’s pretty normal for the clinic.

In 2016, they had 23 cases and in 2017 they saw 14. But last year was an outlier for the clinic with only 9 cases.

“I think a lot of the increased cases it may actually be just from increased detection. So there’s some really good diagnostics that have come out in the last eight years or so,” Freking said.

Treatment for dogs can last several months or longer.

“I love seeing the increase in awareness because I worry about the dogs that vacation up here, play up here, go home, and often they don’t become sick for many months. It usually incubates in the body a long time before they’re ill,” Freking said.

The CDC says most people who breathe in the spores don’t get sick but some of those who do may have flu-like symptoms. Common symptoms include cough, fever, night sweats, fatigue and skin sores that don’t heal. For dogs, the symptoms are similar including cough, weight loss, loss of appetite and skin lesions. About 10{1983fd0e5401b3e8a6c9fe467de9e60f6173a8fbf5c5a6d5959c334d72fdfc18} of people diagnosed with the disease die from it.

Scheftel said it’s not transmitted from animals to people or vice versa, however, people should be aware that they may have have been in the same place as the dog who got it.

“What we would watch for is if you have pneumonia… you’ve been diagnosed with pneumonia. You’ve been treated with antibiotics but you’re not getting better. Then it’s time to think about a fungal disease because antibiotics don’t work for them,” Scheftel said.

She added, “This is unfortunately the tricky thing. There’s no real way to prevent this disease. The best we can do is to recognize it early and get it treated appropriately.”

First Publish Date: 2019-10-01 06:58:00
Author: , (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by ZeeNews24 staff and is published from a syndicated feed.) Reuters

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