Fungal Disease Cases Spike in Marathon Co.

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

A sometimes deadly fungal disease is on the rise in Marathon County.

The number of blastomycosis cases has spiked.

To get a better idea of what the county is working with, they've teamed up with state partners and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the county's epidemiologist, some of the 32 cases diagnosed so far this year do not fit the usual profile for the disease.

"Really when you have an outbreak like this it really gives you an opportunity to try and learn more about blastomycosis because there's certain things we don't know about the organism," Ruth Marx said.

Marx says currently there is no method to take environmental samples of blastomycosis spores, which when inhaled cause the disease.

The fungal organism is found in moist soils, where bodies of water are near and in decaying wood and other vegetation.

Usually, blastomycosis symptoms resemble those of pneumonia and other lung conditions. It can affect other organs.

Symptoms include fever and dry cough that may develop into a persistent cough with thick sputum. Other symptoms include chest pain, muscle aches, night sweats, coughing up blood, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

"It's important people be aware of the symptoms because there really isn't any advice we can give them as fara s preventing infection with it because we don't know. We can't culture it from the environment so we don't know where it is," Marx said.

Anyone with blasto symptoms should see a physician.

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