Wisconsin state health officials are looking into several cases of the fungal infection, Blastomycosis, and any possible link to Wolf River in New London. Madison news source, WKOW reports that two people with confirmed cases of blastomycosis say they got sick after visiting the Wolf River.
However, health officials warn that it’s nearly impossible to confirm whether that’s the source of the illnesses because the Blastomyces is contracted by inhaling fungal spores that live in soil.
Blastomycosis is caused by the dimorphic fungi, Blastomyces dermatitidis. It is endemic in the southeastern and Midwestern United States and his classically associated with the Ohio and Mississippi river valley region.
People typically get infected with this fungus via the lungs through inhalation. Infection can mimic bacterial pneumonia and chronic infection is often confused with tuberculosis.
The fungus can also disseminate through the bloodstream infecting the skin causing lesions on the face and extremities. To a lesser extent, the bone, the prostate and the epididymis can become infected.
Untreated disseminated or chronic pulmonary disease can progress to death.
Blastomycosis can be diagnosed through laboratory testing to include microscopic exam, culture and molecular methods. Itraconazole is the drug of choice for treatment of blastomycosis.
The State Department of Health Services says 23 people have gotten infected so far in Wisconsin this year, WKOW reports, which is on pace for a normal year.