Cures for Blastomycosis

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Put your eye to the tiny porthole of any powerful microscope. You might be peering at a world of trouble if the slide you're viewing is coated with a particularly nasty fungal organism called Blastomyces dermatitidis
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The fungus among us hits people and pets.


Put your eye to the tiny porthole of any powerful microscope. You might be peering at a world of trouble if the slide you're viewing is coated with a particularly nasty fungal organism called Blastomyces dermatitidis.


The organism is the troublemaker that causes Blastomycosis—a fungal infection with a bad attitude. It flourishes in both humans and dogs exposed to the fungus. It can be fatal if not treated. Strangely, cats and other animals rarely are afflicted.


What does Blastomycosis Look Like?


The portions of the human and canine body the fungus likes to call home include the lungs and the skin—although it can spread to other tissues and bone. The thin slice of culture on the slide holds tightly packed clusters that vary in size and density. Granular nodules in the lungs sometimes are the first signs of an internal presence discernable through tests such as sputum analysis and X-ray diagnosis. Bald patches in hairy areas—such as on a dog's head or coat—may indicate the disease's external hello. Human skin also can erupt in crusty, reddened lesions and human lungs—like dog lungs—make fine incubators for the disease.


How is Blastomycosis Transmitted?


Blastomycosis takes hold after a person or an animal inhales spores of Blastomyces dermatitidis. It also gets a grip when a dog or a person with an open sore or a laceration comes in direct contact with the fungus. In nature, the soil-borne organisms multiply much like mushrooms reproduce—discharging microscopic clouds of ripened spores which lead to the next generation. The Mycological Institute for the Study of Fungal Mold in Human Habitations notes in one report wide variations in the incubation period. It may be several months before victims—human or animal—exhibit symptoms such as coughing, fever, runny nose, weight loss and general wasting.


A camper digging a fire pit may upturn clods of spore-laden dirt. A dog sniffing for evidence of other canine visitors may inhale spores and become infected. A warm body replicates the perfect environment in which fungus reproduces at a rapid rate. For example, consider bread. Most bread makers marvel that the combining of flour, warm water and yeast—a minute, one-celled fungus—triggers a process wherein the yeast multiplies and the dough rises. Blastomycosis proliferates inside the body in a similar manner. A sunless site with moisture and warmth aplenty is like a fertile playground to a randy gang of Blastomyces dermatitidis.


Are there Case Studies about Blastomycosis?


Many studies exist. Another name for Blastomycosis is Namekagon Fever. The Namekagon River Valley in northwestern Wisconsin is visited each year by multitudes of vacationers. They glide in canoes or kayaks along the river. They fish and swim. Despite its beauty, the area is recognized as one offering a natural habitat for the microscopic organism that causes Blastomycosis.


One respected medical journal, Chest—the official publication of the American College of Chest Physicians—offers several reports about Blastomycosis. One tells about an epidemic that struck some campers after a canoe trip along the scenic Namekagon. Medics took positive cultures from the victims—family members and acquaintances—and also took X-rays. Among the campers' complaints: cough, chest pain and fever. The canoeists recovered. All were fine after five years with no residual evidence of infection or pulmonary problems.


In addition to Wisconsin, states in which veterinarians and family medics alike have reported cases include Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio and others along the eastern seaboard.


What are the Cures for Blastomycosis?


Animals can be treated with a variety of drugs. Veterinarians considering the cures for Blastomyosis are reported to prefer the use of a drug called Itroconazole—a proven antifungal medication. A close runner-up is Ketoconazole—a broad-spectrum antifungal. Sometimes, a one-two punch is applied with the addition of Amphotericin B—an intravenously applicable antifungal. Lesions on the skin usually are excised with a surgical blade. The pet then is examined on subsequent visits to the family's medical professional of choice.


Human sufferers of Blastomycosis sometimes share similar therapies. Family physicians, pediatricians and others adept at treating the disease in humans have used as cures for Blastomyosis a variety of drugs and therapies. The anti-fungal drug Amphotericin B and Itriconazole together—or in succession—are favored.


None of the experts recommended that to avoid the disease folks stay at home and have no fun at all. In reality, exposures are accidental and prevention is mostly common sensical. Camping, fishing and the like are well loved by all who enjoy nature. But bad things happen. You might get snagged with a fish hook or step on a bee. So, go enjoy nature at every opportunity. Paradise always has flies.

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