Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beware of Blastomycosis

These are photos of Pizarro, a pure-bred, intact, male Presa Canario.  He was a working dog, and belonged to a friend of mine in here in Central Indiana.
Pizarro as a puppy.  What a cute boy.
Pizarro as an adult.

Sarah has shared her story with me.  In late 2012, Pizarro, who was not yet four years old, began demonstrating lameness in his front right leg.  He was treated for a leg injury, and it seemed to be getting better.  At this time he weighed approximately 140 lbs.  He began to drop weight rapidly, first eating only "human" food, than eating no food at all, along with showing signs of respiratory distress.  He was again taken to the vet, blood work done, a fecal specimen obtained, given an injection of antibiotics, and sent home with a course of Keflex.  (Is that the only antibiotic vets prescribe?)

Two days later, his blood work and fecal came back fine.  When they took Pizarro to the vet, the vet was suspicious of a heartworm infection, even though Pizarro, along with their other dogs, were on a regular preventative.  The following day, he returned to the vet, where a chest x-ray was done and additional blood work drawn.  The results of the chest x-ray were indicative of a possible Blastomycosis infection, which the additional blood work confirmed three days later. 

Pizarro was started on the appropriate medication, and his family was force feeding him baby food with a spoon.

On his seventh day of treatment, he passed away from Blastomycosis.

Had there not been a delay in his diagnosis, leading to a delay in appropriate treatment, would Pizarro have survived?  It is hard to say, but terribly sad.

About Blastomycosis
Blastomycosis is a fungus/mold that is found around bodies of water, and is prevalent in certain areas of the country, including Indiana and the rest of the Midwest.  Some speculate that drought (which Indiana suffered from in the summers of 2010-2012) causes the spores to dry out, and travel greater distances, thus increasing rates of infection.
Symptoms of Blastomycosis infection are varied.  They can include:
  • Joint pain
  • Skin lesions
  • Loss of stamina
  • Difficulty breathing, with frequent coughing
  • Eye infections, which can cause blindness, and
  • Neurological problems.
Treatment is long and costly, but effective, and typically is ketoconazole and amphotericin.  There is no vaccine for it.  Blastomycosis spores are typically found in moist soils in wooded areas, so limiting a dogs exposure to these areas can help to decrease to possibility of an infection.
Surprisingly (because they seem to be the most robust), the dogs at greatest risk are two to four year old intact males of hunting and sporting breeds.
Prompt treatment is necessary, and approximately 65% of dogs survive with treatment.
In memory of D&G's Delphi Pizarro/Pupdup.  12/31/08-11/12/12


  1. That is so very sad about Pizarro. Thanks for the info on blastomycosis - we learned a lot.

    Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

  2. That's terribly sad. Thank you for the info.

  3. Poor guy. This is something that isn't terribly common here. I think a lot of vets have a hard time diagnosing fungal infections like this in dogs. I remember a handful of dogs who we thought may have had something fungal going on.


Thanks for the howls!!