Blastomycosis outbreaks help researchers discover different treatment options

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 5:43 PM CST
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Blastomycosis is an infection caused when people breathe in fungus spores usually grown in damp soil. Some people aren't affected, others get sick, and in rare cases it can be deadly. Doctors don't know why which led Marshfield Clinic to ask "Does this look different in different populations?"

A recent study by Marshfield Clinic Research Institute scientists show people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may need more intense treatment when it comes to infections like blastomycosis.

The outbreak in Marathon County in 2009 was crucial in their study because it heavily impacted the Hmong community. Which gave researchers more data from a more diverse population.

"This is really important for providers and those treating it. If it is more severe in certain groups they have may have to treat it more aggressively and get a person hospitalize more quickly," explained Dr. Jennifer Meece, Research Scientist and Director of Integrated Research and Development Lab at the Marshfield Clinic.

Dr. Meece says this could change the outcome for people diagnosed with blastomycosis and lead to better treatments. "We want to make sure there is an awareness because we are still seeing cases emerging now and that it is on the radar of those providing care," said Dr. Meece.

The study's primary investigators were at the Marshfield Clinic with doctors from Denver Health contributing to their work.

They continue to study this topic to learn more about how to treat it and prevent it.

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