After articles ran in two issues of the Enterprise last month about the fungus blastomycosis causing deaths in some dogs and the hospitalization of a local resident, epidemiologist Malia Ireland from the Minnesota Department of Health provided information stating that a respirator page will prevent a person from inhaling the spores. Masks are available for under $5 at hardware stores and other retailers.

“A respirator mask would prevent you from inhaling the spores, but we don’t usually recommend them because we can’t say that duck hunting or marshy areas is a higher risk than another area, like where you park your car to go hunting or your actual yard,” Ireland said. “Our data shows that there isn’t one activity that most people with blastomycosis do. That is one of the tougher things about blastomycosis – we can’t pinpoint exactly where soil might be risky or not, so we don’t have clear prevention methods. That’s why generating awareness of blastomycosis and other fungal infections, in both health care providers and the public, is our best method to reduce illness and save lives.”

The Minnesota Department of Health website provides articles and maps about blastomycosis, along with a map showing where the most cases occurred in the state last year.

“With blastomycosis, awareness among the public and providers to think about fungal infections is really the key. So, if someone has been diagnosed with pneumonia and antibiotics aren’t working, a fungal infection should be considered.