Blastomycosis cases seen in Marathon County (PRESS RELEASE) - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Blastomycosis cases seen in Marathon County (PRESS RELEASE)

 

Contact: Ruth Klee Marx, Epidemiologist

Dale Grosskurth, Environmental Health and Safety Director

Carrie Sickler, Public Health Nurse

Phone: 715]261]1900

Marathon County Health Department has recently seen an increase in Blastomycosis cases in the county.

The Health Department has been working with an epidemiologist from the State, along with the

Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation to investigate these cases, including conducting environmental studies. Since symptoms of blastomycosis can take 1 to 3 months to appear, these cases were exposed in late fall, 2009. Most exposures occur in spring and fall.

Blastomycosis is caused by Blastomyces dermitiditis, a fungus which can cause disease in people and animals, particularly dogs. The fungus grows in nature and is more frequently found in acidic, sandy soils; decaying wood and other vegetation; and by waterways with fluctuating water levels. It produces microscopic spores under specific conditions of temperature, humidity and nutrition. These spores become airborne when the soil or debris in which the fungus is growing is disturbed. Blastomycosis develops when the spores are inhaled. Most exposures occur in spring and fall, with disease incidence spiking about 1]3 months later.

Although anyone can be infected with Blastomycosis, the risk of getting this infection is low. Your risk of infection may be higher if you are more frequently involved in outdoor activities such as farming, construction, and hunting and camping in areas with moist soils containing rotting leaves and wood.

Usually, Blastomycosis symptoms resemble those of pneumonia and other lung conditions, but it can affect other body systems including skin and bone. Some cases don't show any symptoms.

Blastomycosis is generally more severe in the elderly and people with underlying health conditions such as a weakened immune system, asthma or other chronic lung conditions, smoking or diabetes.

As there are currently no effective prevention measures for Blastomycosis, it is important to recognize the symptoms of the disease. These include fever and dry cough which may progress to weight loss, chest pain and a persistent cough with thick sputum. Other symptoms may include muscle aches, night sweats, coughing up blood, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

Although there are no formal recommendations to prevent exposure to Blastomyces, if you have an impaired immune system or are elderly, it would be advisable for you to wear a dust mask when taking part in activities such as gardening or other activities in which the soil is disturbed.

END

MARATHON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT (PRESS RELEASE)

Blastomycosis cases seen in Marathon County

March 30, 2010

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