Blastomycosis - Symptoms & Treatment
Blastomycosis is a rare infection caused by breathing in (inhaling) a fungus called Blastomyces dermatitidis which is found in wood and soil. The mold occurs in sandy acid soils near river valleys or other waterways. Thus, blastomycosis primarily affects the lungs but occasionally spreads through the bloodstream to other areas of the body including the skin. While any dog may contract blastomycosis under the right circumstances, certain populations are at greater risk. The illness that can result from exposure to this organism is extremely variable. Another study found that, while female dogs may have better survival rates with therapy, they are more likely to suffer relapses than males. Blastomycosis usually infects men ages in between 30 to 50. Blastomycosis may causes meningitis, cerebral abscesses, pericarditis, and arthritis. Infected individuals may not develop any symptoms or mild and rapidly improving respiratory symptoms; a progressive illness involving multiple organ systems can occur in untreated patients.
Blastomycosis is a chronic granulomatous and suppurative disease having a primary pulmonary stage that is frequently followed by dissemination to other body sites, chiefly the skin and bone. Sporting and hunting breeds are the most often seen with blasto because of their frequent exposure to soil in wet areas. Thinking it could be a bacterial infection, the veterinarian almost prescribed antibiotics but decided to do a radiograph (X ray) just to be sure. 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. Infections have also occurred in widely scattered areas of Africa. Men between the ages of 20 and 40 years are most commonly infected. Unlike most other fungal infections, blastomycosis is not more common in people with AIDS. Several infections of the skin or mucous membrane caused by Blastomyces. Blastomycosis is also called as Gilchrist's disease .
Causes of Blastomycosis
The common Causes of Blastomycosis :
- Being around infected soil is the key risk factor.
- Inhalation of the microconidia from the mold form of B dermatitidis into the lungs leads to infection.
- Bleeding disorder including anticoagulant therapy.
- Fungus infection of the lung such as coccidiomycosis, histoplasmosis , blastomycosis.
- The disease usually affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or organ transplant recipients.
- Bronchial adenoma..
Symptoms of Blastomycosis
Some Symptoms of Blastomycosis :
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Skin lesions
- Night sweats
Treatment of Blastomycosis
- Treatment involves the use of antifungal agents such as amphotericin B. Amphotericin B (Fungizone) given intravenously is very effective, but it has more toxic side effects.
- Blastomycosis must be treated or it will gradually lead to death.
- Alternative treatment for fungal infections focuses on creating an internal environment where the fungus may not survive. Ketoconazole or fluconazole may be used as a alternative. Patient care is mainly supportive.
- Itraconazole given orally is the drug of choice in mild-to-moderate disease involving the lungs, or in disease involving other organs.
- Specific questions about treatment should be discussed with your health care provider.
- Amphotericin B via intravenous administration is the drug of choice for severe or life-threatening blastomycosis (e.g. ARDS, CNS involvement, immunocompromised patients).
- Treatment of blastomycosis in the pediatric age group is based largely on experience with adult patients.
- Consult a pulmonologist or an intensivist for blastomycosis that presents with or develops ARDS.