Dog dies from rare disease

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MASON CITY, Iowa – “Dempsey was a great dog. He was part of the family. He liked to go hunting, fishing, outdoor activities, come down to the river. just like most people a regular member of the family,” said Greg Hodack from Mason City.

Hodack knows all too well how much owning a pet can mean to a family.

But just recently in a three-week span, things changed dramatically.

“Acting a little bit ill, started out with a hack or gag then it progressed to being a bit lethargic, loss of appetite, limping so we decided to take him to the vet at that point.,” said Hodack.

And that’s when they received the bad news.

Dempsey was diagnosed with blastomycosis.

It’s a fungal disease that’s been rarely spotted in the area according to Dr. Michelle LaCoste.

“Its very life threatening it has a 50 to 75 percent survival rating if caught early and treated appropriately,” said Dr. LaCoste.

According to the doctor the fungus can be found among deeply wooded areas such as these or along a river bank.

“I think with the rains that we had earlier in the year its bringing it out.  It has to be inhaled by a dog, or human, or cat or what have you.  It takes somewhere between five weeks to twelve weeks to cause disease,” said Dr. LaCoste.

Dr. LaCoste works at Animal Medical Hospital in Mason City,

And she says the cases of blastomycosis are increasing.

“We’ve had about eight cases in the last couple of months where we usually won’t have more than one a year.  Sometimes it presents itself as glaucoma, infection in the eye, sometimes its ammonia sometimes its boning disease,” said Dr. LaCoste.

And that’s why Hodack is now working on getting the word out about this disease, and hopes his experience can help keep others from going through the same thing.

“I’ve owned dogs my whole life and I know many people who have had dogs their whole lives who’ve never even heard of this thing.  It acts too quickly, takes them out so quickly. To get the word out and make sure people understand what the symptoms are like so they get in and get it treated early,” said Hodack.

Dr. LaCoste says if your animal is experience a low-grade fever or has an infection that’s not passing, to take the animal in.

Hodack says him and his family are doing the best they can to be moving forward.

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