County health department releases info on blastomycosis outbreak

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health and multiple local public health agencies are currently investigating an outbreak of blastomycosis among people who visited the Little Wolf River in Waupaca County near New London.

If you have visited the Little Wolf River since Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, you may have been exposed to the fungus that causes blastomycosis. If you develop symptoms including cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain or chest pain, visit your health care provider.

Illness may develop 2-15 weeks after exposure to the fungus. Because of the long period of time from exposure until illness onset, we expect to see additional cases of blastomycosis reported.

Blastomycosis is rare.  It can occur when a person inhales spores into their lungs. The fungus can live in moist soil where plant matter, including leaves and wood is plentiful. It is common among riverbanks and swampy areas. The spores become airborne when the soil is disturbed by hunting, hiking, gardening and some recreational activities. 

So if you have tubed on the Wolf River this summer and develop symptoms, see your medical provider. For more information on Blastomycosis see http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/blastomycosis/.