Hi Sandy ...
I am hoping I can write this without blubbering all over creation and my keyboard. Have not been able yet to do so. Maybe this time I can.
Approximately 4 weeks before Angelina got noticeably sick, she had a cough. I mean, she would cough like 3 or 4 times a day...but, just a single cough. Like she was clearing her throat, or had a hairball.
I didn't notice it earlier, because she was not living with me
at the time. I noticed it one day and checked her eyes, ears, temp and
everything was normal. I asked the co-owner Lu about the cough and she said
"Yeah, I noticed she did that one cough like only a couple of times a
day." I asked her if Angelina was eating, drinking and eliminating ok. And
I was told that everything was normal.
About a week later, I was over the co-owner's house watching a movie and decided because I wasn't working for a few days, that I would take Angelina back home with me. It was like 9:30 at night. I put the leash on Angelina, and she was quite sluggish. Lu said it was because it was past her bedtime. When I got her home, she felt warm to the touch. I took her temp and it was only 102.5. She started developing lesions that only looked like small boils, not even pimples but bigger and under the skin, not on it. The next day, she ate and drank well, but didn't want to play with her mother Riva or her favorite...the cats. So, I called the vet and asked for an appt the following day. The next morning, Angelina's nose was all crusty, and now her breathing was a little labored.
The entire bridge of her nose was swollen like she had inhaled a bee, spider or something and maybe had been stung. Her temp was at 104.5 at that point.
One thing I forgot to mention was that Angelina's feet were all swollen, and that was one reason the vet thought she got stung or bitten...her feet and her nose were so swollen.
I had her wrapped in wet cloths all through the night and got
the fever back down, and when the Vet looked her over, he took some blood for a
CBC and gave us Antibiotics. Well, I just don't give antibiotics because they
are handed to me, so I put her on some Natural Immunity boosters, Probiotics and
added more Oxydrops to her daily water.
A few days later, her temp went to 105.5 late at night so the following day, we were back at the vet's. She acted like she was starting to dehydrate, so I had started her on Pedialyte immediately. Vet then decided to to titres for Distemper, Lymes, Ehrlichiosis and Blasto. He then gave us another antibiotic, and the first three tests came back negative that Wednesday. So, Thursday AM, she was breathing so hard, we were back at the Vet's and the Blasto test hadn't come back yet, and he mentioned Xrays, so we did. That was the first time I had ever seen what that disease does to the lungs. They looked like they were full of cotton candy, not air.
Then the vet took a slide sample from Anglina's lesions on her face and samples from her eyes. As he was looking for Blasto under the microscope, the test results came back over the fax machine...she definately had Blasto. My vet only had a few days worth of the Itraconazole to treat her with, so we ordered it overnight from a pharmacy in Arizona. I started her on the Itra from the vet on Thursday night, she got progressively worse, which is what I wastold would happen because of the Itra killing the disease, and Saturday at 4 pm she took her last breath and died in Lu's arms, I was on my way there, and was only a few blocks away.
The best link I have found for the disease is...
_DBMD - Blastomycosis - Technical Information_
and the similar disease _Canine Ehrlichiosis_
I probably forgot some things, and can try to read this again some other time and check for you. I am too upset right now. Angelina and I thank you for taking the time to do this, Sandy. I just pray it can help someone else's dog not have to suffer and die the way Angelina did. I miss her so much.
Renegade Great Danes
It is fungal infection found in the ground in wet areas (around large rivers, lakes and ponds). It is a very serious problem and can cause death without treatment. Treatment is most often sporanox, which can be quite expensive. I had a dog with this some years ago, it can cause lung problems, pneumonia and lesions in the bone if left untreated.
About Blastomycosis (Blasto):
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection. Blasto fungus occur in the environment most often in areas with soils rich in organic material (pond banks, lakeshores, etc). Blasto spores may be released into the air by local wildlife, and are subsequently inhaled by a dog (and often, a human too). Once in the lungs Blasto spores become infective organism and multiply rapidly. At this point, a healthy dog's immune system may fight off the infection and that will be the end of it.
Signs of Infection:
The length of time between infection and outward signs can vary from a few days to several weeks, making it nearly impossible to establish a link between time of infection and location of infectious spores.
* Deep cough
* Abscess of the skin
* Sudden blindness
* Blood in the urine
Less obvious symptoms:
* Fever of 104 degrees or higher
* Loss of appetite
* Intolerance for activity
Blastomycosis symptoms mirror many other diseases
and is often mis-diagnosed. Infectious organisms must be located and examined
for appropriate diagnosis. In cases where a skin lesion is present, a microscope
slide compromised of a tissue sample will show the destructive organisms. If no
lesions are present needle aspirations of the lungs may be needed, although a
veterinarian may start a treatment course for suspected Blasto before positive
diagnosis can be made.
Oral antifungal medications, Sporanox and Diflucan administered over a long period of time (typically three to six months) will have your dog back on his feet again, but will not undo any long-term effects of Blasto, such as spinal or bone damage, or blindness.
and more information:
Blastomycosis is normally acquired by inhalation of spores of this fungus, causing pneumonia and then spread to other areas of the body. However, there are reports of it occurring after injuries. Oddly enough, there are the same number of reports of this happening to veterinarians as there are occurrences in dogs, in the Veterinary Information Network (www.vin.com -- a service for veterinarians only).
Usually itraconazle (Sporonax Rx) is given for about 2 months, or until there is no clinical evidence of the infection and then several more weeks. However, in almost all the reports of the blastomycosis from injuries, the itraconazole had to be given for six months or more and in one case (Marcellin-Little, et al, JAVMA 1996), the dog's leg was amputated to control the infection, although no other treatment was attempted due to the severity of the infection in the leg in that case. So I think that when this infection does occur due to an injury or as a primary skin infection, treatment must be necessary for a longer time, at least based on the reports that I can find (including the vets, who also required long term treatment).
It is supposed to be fairly easy to identify blastomycosis in a wound based on the presence of the yeast-like organism in the wound. But I don't practice in an area in which this disease is common, so I am basing this on what my books say and experience tells me that is sometimes different from what happens in real life.
Just based on the fact that blastomycosis from a wound is unusual, I think it is necessary to keep a high degree of suspicion that something else might be going on. Follow up X-rays to look for changes in the bone and soft tissue in the region might be a good idea or even consideration of another exploratory surgery, although I'm sure that everyone would like to avoid that, if possible.
It might be possible to get a culture sample by aspiration of the wound and to also look for blastomycosis organisms in any aspirate that is obtained. If your vet is not comfortable looking for these (I wouldn't be) it is possible to send a smear from an aspirate to a clinical pathologist at one of the vet schools orat some laboratories.
Hope this helps some.
Mike Richards, DVM
Q: Hi i am a vet tech and need info on Blastomycosis A.S.A.P. Please e-mail me anything you know. A client called because 3 dogs on her block had to be put down because of Blasto. The owner would like to know what she should do to prevent her dog from getting it and how it's transferred. Thank you.
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection. It can affect both dogs and cats. Humans may also be infected by this organism. It is not a contagious illness, though. The fungus is not passed from an infected pet to an uninfected pet as occurs with viral illnesses and some bacterial illnesses. It is acquired from the environment. If more than one animal on your client's street have been infected with this organism it would be a good idea to see if there is some obvious source of infection involving disturbance of the soil, such as a construction site or a yard the dogs are digging in a lot. Most infections occur in dogs that live very close to a body of water and this disease is most common in the Southeast and the states around the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It takes one to three months for signs of infection to occur after the organism has invaded a dog or cat's body.
Blastomycosis can cause respiratory signs such as difficulty breathing, tiring easily or coughing. It causes weight loss and depression pretty frequently. There may be lymph node enlargement and skin disease such as lumps in the skin or draining tracts in the skin. Lung X-rays are a good screening test for this condition because most dogs have radiographic evidence of fungal infection. Examination of any drainage from the lesions on the body may be helpful, too. Serum testing for antibodies to blastomycosis is also available.
If your client's dog runs free or lives in an outdoor kennel near the water, it is at a higher risk than if it is a housedog that is walked on a leash so that its opportunity to dig in inviting soil is restricted.
I will try to gather more information and put together a more detailed description of this condition for the web site but that may take a few days or so.
Meridith K. Langston