Blastomycosis is a fungal infection, occurring mostly in humans, dogs, and sometimes cats. It used to be called Gilchrist’s disease, as it was first described by Thomas Casper Gilchrist in 1894. It primarily manifests as a lung infection, occurring in about three-quarters of all cases. Blastomycosis onsets slowly, resembling pneumonia. As a result, the first line of treatment is usually antibiotics. If left untreated, blastomycosis will spread, frequently erupting into skin lesions.
The fungus responsible for blastomycosis, the Blastomyces fungi, lives in the surrounding environment. It is especially prevalent in moist soil and decomposing leaves. The fungi are particularly concentrated in the eastern United States and Canada, around the Great Lakes. Infection can occur by breathing in spores. Many who breathe in these spores will not develop blastomycosis, but of those who do, flu-like symptoms develop.
Standard treatment for correctly-diagnosed blastomycosis begins with Iitraconazole, an oral medication developed to treat fungal infections. The overall cure rate for blastomycosis is quite significant, given early detection and diagnosis. Cases of blastomycosis have been increasing in some urban areas, including Rockford, Illinois, possibly due to nearby open watersheds, or the dust environment inside one’s house. Blastomycosis has a tendency to strike middle-aged, otherwise healthy individuals, often as the result of outdoor activities.