Cases of Rare Fungal Disease Rise in Northern Minnesota

Blastomycosis is caused by fungi living in the ground. Blastomycosis is caused by fungi living in the ground. |  Photo: WDIO, File

Minnesota Public Radio Contributed to this report.
Created: September 11, 2019 03:25 PM

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) - A summer of heavy rains has caused a rise in cases of a rare fungal infection in northern Minnesota. So far this year, more than 45 people and 150 animals have been diagnosed with blastomycosis. Last year, only 31 human cases and fewer than 100 animal infections were reported by this time.

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An epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health, Malia Ireland, tells Minnesota Public Radio News the infections are caused by fungi living in the ground.

Ireland says flooding has moved land around, exposing spores to the air.

RELATED: In August, WDIO reporter Ryan Juntti introduced us to a Grand Rapids woman who had the fight of her life in 2010. Jennifer McNellis was diagnosed with blastomycosis and was in a coma for six weeks.
Read her story, Grand Rapids Woman Shares Experience Battling Blastomycosis.

The fungus thrives in moist ground, especially in wooded areas near rivers and lakes. Most of the cases were reported in northern Minnesota.

Most of the animal cases are dogs, which dig their noses in the dirt.

Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News


Minnesota Public Radio Contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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