Another Cottage Health Hazard
We are all aware of some of the health hazards associated with cottage life. The Hanta virus can be picked up from deer mice and we are reminded not to vacuum up mouse droppings. ￼Instead, wear gloves and use a bleach-soaked cloth when cleaning. Better still, find where mice are entering and seal up the spot. No one should drink untreated water which can infect us with giardia, “beaver fever”. Swimmers can be infected with a parasite which is carried by snails and ducks. The result is a nasty case of itching which lasts for three or more days. Lyme disease, an arthritis-like condition which is transmitted by deer ticks and mice, has the possibility of being treated by a new experimental drug which has not yet been licensed.
To this list is now added blastomycosis, a fungal disease which primarily attacks dogs. Haliburton vet, Laurie Brown, has characterized this county as a “hotbed" of the Disease with 14 confirmed cases in dogs and one in a cat since 1988.
Alarmingly, blastomycosis can attack humans. Perhaps you missed the letter in the summer issue of Cottage Life. A correspondent wrote about her husband’s serious loss of weight, night sweats and high fever incurred after pulling brush from the tile bed of a newly-purchased cottage. After an initial diagnosis of “fluid on the lung” and “tuberculosis”, he was placed on very potent medicines. Unsatisfied, the wife searched the Internet and found out about the fungus-caused condition which looks like tuberculosis on x-rays. When her husband was skeletal in appearance, had difficulty breathing and walking, was on oxygen day and night, a specialist finally did a lung biopsy which confirmed the presence of blastomycosis. Recovery occurred after four months although the patient remained on expensive anti-fungal medicine for six months. “Blasto” can be fatal if not treated in time with anti-fungal drugs.
The specialist who did the biopsy always wears a mask when working underneath his cottage or in situations where he is stirring up dirt or molds. It would be equally important to keep the inside of cottages as mold-free as possible.