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Old 03-12-2009, 10:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 58
Default Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

This is going to be long, but below is the diary I kept while our Molly was sick. It was also a live blog I kept for friends and family to see and be kept up to date. I hope nobody else has to deal with Blastomycosis, it was one of the worst times of our lives.

My wife Amanda and I were married June 21st 2008.

Molly’s Pneumonia: Type Unknown
Prior to June 20th 2008:
Molly begins showing signs of sickness. Her normal bundle of energy personality is fast becoming one of lethargy, she is sleeping often, not playing as usual, and is visibly losing weight. She is also developing a light cough. She seems to be cold all the time, and shivers a lot.
June 20th 2008:
Upon calling our vet, Molly needs to be seen immediately. Her symptoms are becoming worse, and I feel that I needed to call our vet to see if these symptoms are something serious or something that could be related to the stress of being moved around so much due to our upcoming wedding. It turns out that stress is not the culprit. I took her to the vet in Millbank due to the proximity of where we currently are. She weighs17.8 pounds, a loss of 2.3 pounds since her last vet visit in April. She has a fever of 103.8. She has some definite repertory issues, and the vet thinks, like our vet did, that it is some sort of pneumonia. He gives her an injection of Ampicillin, and sends us on our way with a week’s supply of Clavamox, an antibiotic.
Week of June 23rd to June 27th:
Molly doesn’t seem to react well to the Clavamox, the pills seem to make her nauseas and make her sleep. But upon waking up she seems to be much better until her next pill. Her cough is going away, but she still has little energy and doesn’t eat much. She does seem to be getting better, and she finishes up her pills before we leave her and Floppy with friends to go on the family vacation up North.
July 3rd:
We hear word from the friends watching Molly that she woke up one morning shivering, but the rest of the time she continued to look as if she were improving.
July 5th:
We pick up the dogs from the friends watching them. Molly appears to be even skinnier, and doesn’t show her usual excitement we were hoping for. She does seem happy to see us though.
July 6th:
We went for a long walk today hoping she was just depressed from our being gone. She really seemed to enjoy that, but was so worn out from that she slept all day afterward. We decide to take her to our vet tomorrow.
July 7th:
Molly seems to be much worse. Her cough is back and more persistent; she eats very little, and does nothing but move around and to new sleeping spots. We go to our vet at 2pm. She is running a 104.7 degree fever. Normal for her is about 102. She now weighs 17.4 pounds. She has lost about 25% of her body weight. The vet tells us we have a very sick dog, she still has some sort of pneumonia, and she may die in her condition. He seems puzzled at her not responding to the Clavamox, and decides that more tests are needed to figure out what she may have. She had chest X-rays done and a full CBC blood test performed. Both tests came back looking positive for Blastomycosis, a fungal pneumonia. Then he tried to get her to cough up some mucus, hoping to get lucky enough to get some cells that are from her lungs to see if he can find the parasite that causes the Blasto. He did not find any of the parasites, but he did find some bacteria rods in her mucus. This was more puzzling, as the bacterial pneumonia and the Blasto CANNOT be infecting her at the same time. It has to be one or the other. Another puzzling thing is that is Molly has the bacterial pneumonia; Floppy should have gotten it, as it is contagious. Blasto is not contagious. Molly is also missing one of the most telltale signs of Blasto: she has no lesions on her body. Dogs with Blasto usually have at least one to many open lesions from the fungus that drain fluids. Our only options to figure out what type it is are now to either do a lung biopsy, which will be 100% accurate as to what she has, or send off a blood sample to a different lab, have them test specifically for Blasto, and if it comes back positive, it will be over 90% accurate. The blood sample is cheaper, but with a 4-5 day turnaround. We sent a blood sample away and are awaiting the results. In the meantime, hoping that it is the bacterial pneumonia, he gives her two antibiotic injections of something he didn’t tell us, and sent us home with 10 days worth of a different antibiotic than the first time, called Baytril, hoping she just didn’t respond to the Clavamox and she will show signs of improvement. He requests to see Molly again in about 4-5 days to see if the Baytril is working or not. Even if we don’t see much of a difference, her fever should be gone, and that will indicate a positive response to the medicine. When the vet brings her back to us, she is visibly happy and wagging her tail. (All the time we were talking to the vet we were in a room called “Whispering Pines”. This is the only room that does not have an exam table. Instead it has a loveseat, which has a table next to it supplied with tissues, multiple pamphlets on things like pet funeral services, memorials, ways to remember lost pets, etc. On the wall hangs writing, called “The Rainbow Bridge”. I couldn’t get past the first verse of it, so I tried to ignore it. Google it if you dare. Just being in this room was beyond nerve-racking, sending my emotional system into chaos, making me go from feeling like puking to bawling to passing out and back again.) We took her home and she seemed to act the same. I bought her some rice and hamburger, and after I cooked them, she ate a good amount of that. She was drinking water as she should, and she seemed to shiver less, then stop shivering all together. She slept on top of our blankets like she used to before she started becoming sick. After she started the shivering thing (which I am assuming is due to the fever) she went under the blankets and slept as close to us as possible, to stay warm. I am hopeful that since she chose to stay on top of the blankets and did not shiver even with an air conditioner and a fan in the room that she may be feeling a little better, and maybe her fever is less or gone…
July 8th:
Molly slept on top of our blankets all night. Amanda took both dogs on a 15 minute walk this morning, and Molly seemed to be having fun. Her tail was wagging the whole time. She ate a hot dog and had some more hamburger and rice. She still does not seem to be interested in her own food, and still sleeps a lot. She seems to be moving around more than yesterday, but we are unsure if that is an improvement or just listlessness, another symptom of pneumonia in general. She seems to have a desire to lay out in the sun, and has been scratching at the door to be let outside. Her breathing has gone from short rapid breaths to a deeper, slower breath, although it is not as slow as normal. She still has congestion noises when she breathes as well.
July 9th:
Molly seemed a bit better today. She jumped onto the bed a few times, but a few others she waited for help. Her breathing seems about the same as yesterday, but I haven’t seen her cough in a while. She makes efforts to let us know she wants to go outside by scratching at the door. Her appetite is about the same, but she ate some lunchmeat as well as her rice mix and a hot dog. We can get her visibly happy by talking excitedly to her, and she wags her tail and comes to us. Still no news from the vet with blood test results, and she hasn’t shown a landmark of improvement yet. We still remain hopeful.
July 10th:
Not much to say today, Molly seems the same as yesterday. Not much appetite or energy, and she wants to be outside to lie in the sun. Still no word from the vet with her test results.
July 11th:
Molly is the same today. No visible signs of improvement. The only good news comes from the vet, who got the test results back from the lab. They are 100% negative for the Blastomycosis that we were thinking she had. Unfortunately, that does not explain what we ARE dealing with. She seems not to be responding to the antibiotics as she should, and she is obviously having a hard time.
July 12th:
Nothing new today. She is as usual, with no appetite, no energy, and it seems her breathing may be getting worse. Her cough is still around, although not as bad as it was.
July 13th:
It seems Molly has turned for the worse today. This morning she seemed alright. She had a little more energy. We went for a short walk. When we were out we noticed she was having eye issues. She couldn’t keep the left eye open, and she was squinting the entire time. She has a lot of drainage from her eyes. It also seems she is draining from her nose as well, but that may be because of the eyes. Her appetite is gone; she won’t even eat human food. We were wrapping her pills in hot dogs, lil’ smokies, and turkey lunch meat. Turkey was her visible favorite. Now she won’t touch it. Her breathing seems really hard for her. She can breathe in deeper than before, but it seems like she has to force it out. We have a vet appointment tomorrow at 4:10pm, but I might call into work and try to get her in at 8:00am. We are getting more worried as time passes. I am afraid that when we take her in tomorrow the vet may want to keep her and put her on an oxygen tank. Her gums are not a bright pink anymore, but almost a grey color.
July 14th:
She seemed OK this morning. She refused to take her pill last night, and we were worried about that. But she seemed a bit more chipper and energetic before we went to the vet. She lost about another pound, and is down to 15.9. The doctor says she is losing a lot of her muscle mass. She is still running a 104 degree fever. The vet gives us some Rimadyl to help reduce her fever so she feels better and might start to eat. It seems the Baytril is not working, or not as is should. Her lungs look better on the X-Ray, and the vet tells us her breathing is better. But not to the point it should be. So for some reason the Baytril is doing something, but we don’t know why. (This is turning out to be like an episode of “House”, only at the vet). So we decide to keep her on the Baytril as it seems to be doing SOMETHING. We had the X-Rays sent to the U of MN to be looked at by the best people there are, and hoping they can be more specific on what Molly has. The vet is not all that hopeful. He thinks the radiologist down there will be stumped as well. The general conclusion at our vet is that she has a Mycotic pneumonia of some sort. The vet thinks the U will agree, but not be able to help much further, and will want to have her down there to do a lung biopsy and more, resulting in a bill of over $2000. And then after that we can start treatment, which is estimated at a minimum of $800 to over $2000. So right now we have the X-Rays sent out and are now waiting on results for about 7 business days, meanwhile giving Molly drugs that are “kind of” helping, but not really. We are basically hoping she lives till we find out what is really wrong and how to treat it.
We take Molly home and give her a pill to reduce her fever. Then we go out to a baseball game. When we get back Molly was visibly better, almost running around, interested in food. We were very happy. The night turned out to be much worse. Molly was up all night, and so were we. She got to the point where she could not breathe without a fan blowing on her face, and if she lies on her stomach she can’t breathe much at all. I was surprised she made it through the night. I got extremely ill myself worrying about and nursing her through the night.
July 15th:
After waking up, Molly seems better than last night. She ate her pills in some pepperoni and cheese this morning. She is walking around, and prefers to be outside, standing in the sun. I don’t know why, she is visibly hot. Maybe the hot air is easier on her lungs to breathe. I called the vet, because I honestly don’t think she will survive until the results of the X-Rays come back. He told me to put her on 10mg of Benadryl 3 times a day, and is should make her more comfortable. I told him how she was last night, and expressed my concerns about needing to do something more immediately. He told me the only two things he can recommend are sending her to the U immediately, or treating for a Mycotic illness as most people are expecting. He said if it seems as she won’t make it till we find out what it is exactly, we really don’t have much to lose. If we wait, we are pretty sure she will die. If we treat for the Mycotic illness and we are wrong, she pill probably die. If we are right, she has a good shot of a full recovery. This is our last chance. So the vet said to try the Benadryl and call if she gets worse, and he will set up an Itraconazole prescription (half a pill in the mornings, ¼ pill in the evening. The pills are about $10 each. If they work, we are looking at having to keep her on them for 60 to 90 days.). While I was out buying the Benadryl he called me back saying he had a 10 day supply set up for us to be picked up, and he had thought about it and recommends we try this, as it seems our last shot to saving Molly. The bad side of this is that the medication will trigger an immune system response in her, and she will look worse for about one week before we see signs of improvement, even though she is actually improving as the fungus will be dying. I am going to go pick up the medication, but I am reluctant to leave her home alone, as she can’t even lie down anymore without having major breathing issues. She only breathes through her mouth now. She is drinking a LOT of water however, and I take that as a hopeful sign. Her cough is worse, to the point of hacking stuff up, but according to the internet and the vet, that is actually a good sign, and she is removing material from her lungs. I honestly believe that if this Itraconazole does not work, we will lose our Molly.

July 16th:
At approximately 8:45am this morning, Molly passed away. I was at work, and was called home soon afterward. All last night Molly had been going in and out of the house in about hour long shifts. She would sit in bed with us, then go outside and try to sleep on the lawn. The vet said that the humid air may have been easier on her lungs. At about 7am Amanda let her in the house. They laid down on our bed. Amanda laid there and pet Molly until she fell asleep. Soon afterward she just stopped breathing.

We went to the vet at about 10am. Being as Molly was such a confusing case for us as well as the vet, they are doing an autopsy for us at no charge to figure out what she had, what went wrong, and why this ended up so badly. We want to make sure that this won't happen to Floppy. There is still a great deal of mystery around this, and it will help bring us a little peace to know what happened.

Right now Amanda and I are in a great deal of hurting (as well as Floppy to a lesser extent). We appreciate your support, and your prayers, as we work through this. It is not at all how we imagined our first month being married would go.

Molly was 479 days old (About 15 months). At her best she was 20lbs, a great rabbit tracker, and a cute little dog with the best personality around. She was a birthday present for Amanda on her 22nd birthday (we got her a little sooner though). We owned her for about 13 months, and will miss her for a lifetime.

We are so sorry Molly.
We will love you forever...

The vet called me after the autopsy. Molly definitely had a mycotic infection, either Blastomycosis or Cryptococcosis. We are having her lungs sent to the U of M to find out exactly what it was, because it is a danger that Floppy was exposed to this as well, and isn't showing symptoms yet. He will be put on a preventative medication as soon as we get the results.
For all those out there still giving us support, we thank you, and ask you to keep us in your prayers, as well as Floppy.

Week of July 21st:

We finally got the results back from the U of MN. Molly died of Blastomycosis, which she had previously tested negative for. Evidently it was a very acute case. This illness is caught from inhaling the spores of a kind of fungus. It is prominent in river bottoms and cattail areas, where the water floods in the spring and recedes as the weather turns drier. Unfortunately, this is pretty much what our back yard is each spring, with a cattail infested pond nearby. We have concluded that she probably got it in our own backyard. Blastomycosis is a rather rare illness to get, conditions need to be just right in order for the fungus to germinate, and then it needs to be inhaled. Humans, dogs and cats are all susceptible to it, but dogs are most likely, especially hunting dogs, males, and dogs over 50lbs.

Unfortunately, we now need to make sure Floppy is ok. We took him to the vet earlier this week, where he had a checkup and had chest x-rays. The doctor came back with his x-rays and saw two curios spots that he wanted a better opinion. So now Floppy's x-rays are on their way to the U of MN to be looked at by the radiologist there. If he thinks that the spots are of a fair amount of concern, Floppy must go on medication. This medication is toxic, and must be given carefully, and will make him sick before it makes him better, as the first thing it will do is throw his immune system into shock. The pills cost about $10 each, two a day for 90 to 120 days. But Floppy has shown NO signs like Molly did, and we are hoping the vet is being over cautious due to what happened to Molly.

Floppy has been visibly depressed after the loss of Molly. He likes to play, but will suddenly stop and search the house for her, and when he realizes she isn't there he lays down and sleeps. He has been attached to her favorite sleeping spots, and has grown more attached to Amanda in general.

Due to the fact that the Blastomycosis came from our yard, we have every intention of moving. We are trying to get out of here by August 15th. We will be moving in with parents or friends, and doing what we can to make ends meet. We are higly stressed out about our dogs, having to move, finding jobs in the cities, our reliable vehicle needing $1000 in repairs, and the wedding photographer losing our photos. We are out of all of our wedding money and savings. We are barely making it by paycheck to paycheck. We still appreciate your prayers and support... Please feel free to leave us messages and such, we really appreciate it.

I will try to post more as I remember things, and as I find out more information about moving, Floppy, jobs, etc.
Feel free to ask any questions if you have any.

Love and Thanks

Literally seconds after clicking the post button, the Dr. called me from the vet. The radiologist from the U of MN said that Floppy's lungs were clean! The spots the Dr. saw were not in resemblance to any kind of fungal infection. He said one of the spots were most likely from something I did not recognize, a bruise or something. Either way, he does not have to go on medication, and we just have to watch him for 90 days. If he doesn't get sick, he is in the clear unless he is re-exposed to the fungus. One way to check for sure is to have an x-ray done again in 60 or so days. Needless to say, we are happy about this.

Today we got a sympathy card from out vet. It was signed by our Dr. and all of the vet technicians.

On a different note, I called the breeder we got Molly from to see if she was still breeding the same dogs, as we wish to have one very similar to Molly. Sometime around my birthday, I don't know when yet as I am still waiting to hear from the breeder, a litter of puppies was born, and we will be getting a female from the litter about 8 weeks later. It will be Molly's niece, as the mother was a sister from and earlier litter. All we are waiting for is to hear back from the breeder to see how many females she has. We are looking forward to getting a new puppy sometime in September, but glad that we have to wait that long, to help with some healing.

Thank You for reading.

I would post a picture but I have not figured out how yet. I think I need to be a better poster here before I am allowed to do that.

Owned by Floppy(3) and Bella(1), and Molly, who went to the Rainbow at 15months old on 7/16/08.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

Here are a few pictures I found.
Attached Thumbnails
Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis-2961.jpg   Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis-2962.jpg   Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis-2963.jpg   Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis-2964.jpg  

Owned by Floppy(3) and Bella(1), and Molly, who went to the Rainbow at 15months old on 7/16/08.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

I'm so sorry for you loss. Molly was beautiful.

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Old 03-12-2009, 11:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

I'm so sorry for your loss.
Gale~Mom to Maggie

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Old 03-12-2009, 11:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

She was gorgeous. She was taken too soon. My condolences. It sounds like your family had a frustrating time, not knowing what was making her sick. And thank goodness Floppy is all right.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

So sorry your new family had to endure this trauma. It is obvious you love your pets and will do whatever is necessary to take care of them. Good luck with the new pup.
Donna - owned by Maya, Little Man Tate, Sulli, and honorary beagle Sam
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Molly was beautiful! I'm so sorry you all had to go through this.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

Molly was a very adorable girl. Your were very lucky to have each other for her short stay on earth.

I am so sorry that you and your family had to go through this.
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

Thank you for the full report, again I am very sorry for your loss.
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Our beloved Molly and Blastomycosis

You gave Molly all the love, attention, care and concern you could give her, she was a lucky girl to have a family like you adopt her. Even though she was only here a short time, she will stay in your heart forever. I hope that Floppy's tests turn out to be better and you can remedy the situation you are in, so that your souls and hearts can rest. I'll be praying for you all.
Cathy J

Casie and Cobi's mom
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