Diagnosing and treating Blastomycosis - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Diagnosing and treating Blastomycosis

by Natalie Sparacio

Marshfield (WAOW)-- Blastomycosis is a rare fungal infection that affects your lungs and skin.

This week's Living Well takes a look at why it's so difficult to diagnose, and how patients are treated.

Blastomycosis, or Blasto, can exist on any organic material...from leaves to soil.

It's a seasonal fungal infection that creeps up when the soil is moist or thawed, and when the spores are breathed in.

Doctors say the people are most at risk for catching it in the fall, and that the greatest prevalence is right here in central and northern Wisconsin.

It's a rare infection most commonly found in farmers, forestry workers, hunters, and campers.    

That's because spending a lot of time outdoors can increase your chances for coming down with Blasto.

In fact, back in 2006 Lincoln County had an outbreak.

27 cases were confirmed, compared to the typical 8 cases per year.

Doctors say coming up with a diagnosis can be challenging.

Dr. Laura Nelson, M.D. at Marshfield Clinic says, "...it is difficult to diagnose for several reasons. Number one, the incubation period can be long, the second reason is some people have no symptoms, and the third reason is the symptoms can mimic viral or other bacterial infections. The symptoms can be fever, body aches, chills, and cough...so some people may think they have a cough or a flu like illness."

Since blasto is a fungus...it can't be treated with antibiotics.

"...has to be treated with anti-fungal's, and there are special medicines that treat funguses...a tablet form for cases that are mild to moderate...and then people with severe cases of blasto...that would effect the central nervous system would need intravenous therapy, " said Dr. Nelson.

Blastomycosis is treatable, and many people do make a full recovery.

The infection can not be passed from human to human, or animal to human...you have to inhale the spores to become infected.

If any of your pets, or people living in your community have come down with blastomycosis...doctors at Marshfield Clinic recommend you tell your healthcare provider, and ask to be tested for it.

Living Well is produced in part and sponsored by Marshfield Clinic.

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