Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that affects people, dogs and occasionally cats caused by an organism known as Blastomyces dermatitidis. Because the fungus is commonly found near waterways in acidic soils that are rich in decaying vegetation, blastomycosis most often affects people living in the central and southeastern United States (particularly in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys and the Great Lakes states). In Minnesota, blastomycosis is most common in St. Louis, Itasca, and Beltrami counties.
A person or animal becomes infected with blastomycosis by inhaling airborne spores from the mold form of the organism. Symptoms and signs of blastomycosis vary and may include:
- loss of appetite
- skin lesions
The disease is not transmitted via person-to-person or person-to-animal contact. If you have a pet with this infection you cannot contract the disease from your pet, but you may be at risk for contracting the disease through a common environmental source such as contaminated soil near a waterway.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in conjunction with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is studying blastomycosis in dogs to better define areas in the state where the disease is found. Canine cases are more numerous than human cases and the location of exposure can often be more easily identified.
All positive canine blastomycosis cases must be reported to the Board of Animal Health by completing the Veterinary Blastomycosis Report Form and returning it to the MDH or the Board of Animal Health.