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CDC warns rare fungi is sickening dogs, humans in Wisconsin

Infections can occur among those who participate in recreational activities near streams and waterways.
CDC warns rare fungi is sickening dogs, humans in Wisconsin
Posted at 10:35 AM, Apr 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-05 10:35:39-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is raising awareness of a rare fungal infection discovered among both people and dogs in a Wisconsin county. 

The CDC noted that five dogs and four humans became infected with blastomycosis in 2022 in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Among the human cases, two were serious enough to require hospitalization, including one patient who died. 

All five dogs initially had mild to moderate symptoms. 

Health officials said the fungi that cause these infections can often be found in moist soil, especially near streams. Health officials tied the cases in Wisconsin to the Willow River near Boardman.

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“Although blastomycosis is infrequently reported, clusters have occurred primarily among persons engaging in recreational activities along waterways or in areas with ongoing excavation,” the CDC said. “Clinicians should consider blastomycosis among patients with compatible symptoms who live in or have traveled to known areas of endemicity, especially among patients with respiratory symptoms that do not resolve with antibiotic treatment.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said symptoms can include cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain and chest pain. 

Symptoms take about three to 15 weeks to occur, according to local health officials. They added that infections cannot be passed between people and pets.

The CDC said generally, there are one or two cases per 100,000 people a year. The CDC also notes that Wisconsin typically has a higher number of cases than the rest of the U.S. 

A past analysis found 1,216 deaths tied to blastomycosis in the U.S. from 1990-2010.