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MNHunter65

Blasto ( blastomycosis )

29 posts in this topic

May 16th my lab Sam lost control of his hind legs. One minute he was fine and the next minute he could barely walk. I brought him to the vet thinking he had a stroke. They did some tests and one came back positive for Lyme Disease. This made sense to me since I have had other dogs get lymes and have trouble moving. So we started on antibiotics and the vet said if things don't improve in a few days to come back.

 

Fast forward to last weekend while up at the cabin near Brainerd. Sam had been getting better with walking, but was still having some trouble with coordination. Saturday he started getting real lethargic and panting a lot. He also developed a sore on his foot that he was licking raw. I went back home on Monday and said if nothing changed by Tuesday I would bring him in to the vet again.

 

Tuesday came around and Sam still was very lethargic and his appetite was going away. It was obvious he was losing weight as well. By now he had also developed a hacking cough. I bought a thermometer on my way home from work and took his temp. It was 104.5, so off to the vet we went. They ending up doing a complete blood profile and everything came back within normal ranges, so they decided to do x-rays. They noticed some masses in his lungs and decided to refer me to a specialist.

 

Yesterday we arrived to the appointment with the specialist. While in the waiting room, I noticed a boil had formed on Sams lower lip. I told the vet about it and they took a quick sample of it. Within a few minutes they came back with a diagnosis of Blasto. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but glad it's not cancer.

 

In case you haven't heard of Blasto (which I hadn't until a few days ago), it is a fungal infection that dogs or humans can pick up. It's typically found in moist soil areas next to water. If the soil gets disturbed, the spores go airborn and infection can happen by breathing them in. I'm fairly confident Sam got his infection last month while digging at a bank den a muskrat had made.

 

So now the treatment starts. Two pills a day for 6-12 months is what I am being told. Antibiotics do nothing for this infection, so Itraconazole has been prescribed. The vet said right off the bat to get meds from Canada, because the pills in the US are close to $15 per pill. In Canada they are closer to $2 per pill. On top of that, we will still need to do periodic tests to make sure the fungal infection is going away. So this is not a cheap infection to treat.

 

The vet said the first week on the meds is the real test, because things typically get worse before they start getting better as the fungus starts dying in the lungs.If he can pull through the first week, they have high hopes he will make a good recovery.

 

Just thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone else has a dogs that has had this. How did things turn out for them?

Rick likes this

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That's one I've never heard of before.

Good luck to you and Sam ! Hopefully you caught it early enough and he pulls through it.

Thoughts and prayers for you both!

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Please keep us posted on Sam's progress. Since I've had TWO black labs named Sam I have a personal stake in all this! Ha!

It's a brand new "illness" to me but you can be assured I am going to learn more about it.

Best of luck to you and Sam. Sounds like maybe you got it in time.

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Thanks guys. I will keep this post updated with his progress.

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Monday update. Sam didn't have much of an appetite all weekend. He even turned away steak and bacon. His breathing has become quicker and his cough/hack has gotten more frequent. His breathing seems best when he just stands, so thats what he does. They vet said the fungal medicine would probably make this stuff happen during the first week. Today is day 5 on the meds, so hopefully we'll be turning the corner soon. This Blasto stuff is not good at all.

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Do you think he got it in the Brainerd area? I know Bemidji area has quiet a few cases each year. I also know of 2 different cases in the Brainerd area, both of them were the same owner and feel they contacted it around the crow wing river area.

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We have a cabin in Merrifield, so I'm 95% sure that is where he picked it up, especially given the conditions where this stuff grows. He was digging at a muskrat bank den by the water in a wooded area. This is a moist soil area with decomposing organic material. Thats the only time in the last few months he has done any digging.

On a side note, I tried some canned dog food last night just to get him to eat something. He ate one can last night and one this morning, so hopefully he is making a turn for the better.

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hopefully he will get better but it takes a long time. My dad got it when he was about 70 years old or so and he got it on his leg, didn't get to his lungs. He was in the hospital for a while, had the blasto carved out of his leg and was then on antibiotics and other drugs for 6 months. He lost 50 pounds and eventually was so weak they took him off of the drugs because the drugs that were saving him were killing him. Once he got it licked he gained most of the weight back and was good as new. Good luck, dogs are tough.

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The stuff is nasty best of luck to you and your dog.. The biggest problem is it is often misdianosed and by the time a vet figures it out it is too late..

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This week there has been a little progress. The hacking is pretty much gone and so is the fever. Sam still doesn't have much of an appetite. The only thing he will eat is canned dog food. He is still turning away "people food" though. He might be eating just enough food to maintain weight and not lose anymore. So far he has lost about 15 pounds and a lot of muscle mass. Trying to get him to eat and gain weight might be a challenge unless his appetite comes back.

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Sounds like he is on the mend but slowly. I suspect he prefers the canned dog good because to him that is just like filet and you know how well YOU like that!

Hang in there Sam!!

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It has now been two full weeks since going on the meds and Sam is still making a little progress. Finally in the last two days his appetite has come back pretty good, so I'm hoping he will start putting on some of the weight he has lost. He is still having some coordination issues with his back legs, but only when he tries to run. Overall, I am happy there is some progress.

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Those who have not been there don't realize that it's a tough situation when you have a canine pal who is seriously sick. About all you can do is feed 'em the meds and keep them warm and happy.

They mean a lot to most of us and while we don't worry about the extra duties we do worry a lot about how things are doing.

Sounds good for Sam and it is probably just time, nourishment, meds and an ear scratch now and then.

On Sam......not on you!

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Well, I may have spoken too soon. Friday evening he stopped eating again. The only thing he will touch is raw venison and now he won't even eat much of that. I've offered him everything I can think of, but he just turns his head at food. I'm down to my last couple packs of venison, so I'm hoping he'll start eating something else. At this point he just needs to eat.

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Thought I would give an update on Sam. Over the last month there has been a pretty good turn-around. He is eating well and has gained back some weight. He still has some issues with his back legs, but he is getting better.

After 6 weeks of being on the meds, we did a urine test to see if the blasto is going away. The test goes from 0-14 and he is still greater than 14, so we have a ways to go. He was greater than 14 when he was first diagnosed as well. The vet said to come back in 2 months for a recheck, so hopefully things continue to improve.

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So now the treatment starts. Two pills a day for 6-12 months is what I am being told. Antibiotics do nothing for this infection, so Itraconazole has been prescribed. The vet said right off the bat to get meds from Canada, because the pills in the US are close to $15 per pill. In Canada they are closer to $2 per pill. On top of that, we will still need to do periodic tests to make sure the fungal infection is going away. So this is not a cheap infection to treat.

This happened to me 11 years ago. My dog lost an eye and a good portion of her lung capacity. My vet told me to get on a plane to Mexico. $10 a pill here in the states. $4 a pill in Fort Frances. $1.25 a pill in Mexico. We were taking 4 pills a day. Do the math, you will see it is an extremely expensive cure!!! I had a friend cross the border from San Diego pick up a 6 month supply and mail them up to me. My dog hunted the last 4-5 years of her life with one eye. Didn't really affect her ability until the last year. Blasto is a Killer no doubt. By now your dog should be well on his way to recovery since he is half way into his meds. GOOD LUCK!!

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He is doing much better now. His back legs still aren't 100%, but that may have something to do with arthritis too. We throw the dummy everyday and his appetite is great now. I just had his second urine test sent in to see if the Blasto is going away and it should be about a week before I find out results. From the way things are going, I'm thinking the meds are doing their job.

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Just an update to this thread. I had a Blasto test done last week and it finally came back negative. So this deal was basically a whole year event from start to finish. We still need to keep Sam on the meds for another month or two just to make sure it doesn't come back. Not a fun deal. Overall he came out of this in pretty good shape.

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Thank you for keeping us posted. Your posts might help someone else and their dog.

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Glad it turned out well. Blasto is nasty business. A friend of mine's dog got it, and it took a year as well before she was back to 100%. 

Blasto is a fungal spore that is found mainly around old river valleys like the Mississippi and Ohio. When dogs dig in dry dirt they kick up the spores and inhale them. It's pretty common around Walker/Bemidji/Park Rapids. Vets in Park Rapids see a lot of it apparently. There is - or was - a duck hunting spot on a lake up there that was called Dead Dog Blind because so many dogs had gotten blasto there. 

As someone else in this thread said, humans can get it as well, and it's really not pleasant. A friend of a friend got it in his lungs, and when my friend went to visit him in the hospital, he had turned gray and black, and his friend told him "come back with a shotgun."  He didn't make it...

 

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Yes, it is nasty stuff. I hope someone can maybe learn from this if something odd pops up with their dog. I had another dog have the same symptoms Sam had a few years ago. A different vet did an exploratory surgery and said it was cancer with no chance of survival, so we had her put down right away. It really makes me wonder if she had blasto as well. Should it happen again, I know what to look for.

monstermoose78 likes this

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Glad to hear your pup made it! I lost my yellow lab to blasto a few years ago. Spent a lot of money on vet bills and meds. they didnt work.

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On May 29, 2015 at 1:48 PM, MNHunter65 said:

Just an update to this thread. I had a Blasto test done last week and it finally came back negative. So this deal was basically a whole year event from start to finish. We still need to keep Sam on the meds for another month or two just to make sure it doesn't come back. Not a fun deal. Overall he came out of this in pretty good shape.

I have a 4 year old black female lab. She has been diagnosed with blast 3 weeks ago. We started with 4 pills a day for the first week an now 2 pills per day. She has lameness in her back legs, an open sore on her toe. She has just finished her 3rd week and now is being very fussy with her food. I give  her human food, ham, eggs, chicken.

Her blast showed in an enlarged lymph node and a swollen leg. We already have spent 3,000 so far. Just want our dog to get better. Such a rare disease as we living in Ontario. Such a worry as we love her so much.  Cindy

leech~~ likes this

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