State health officials say that lingering case of pneumonia may actually be blastomycosis. The rare fungal infection of the lungs gets started when soil is disturbed, and the spores of the fungus are inhaled. Northern Wisconsin counties are among those where the condition is more prevalent.
Stephanie Marquis of the state Department of Health Services says people with blasto tend to have pneumonia like symptoms. "If you have been treated for bacterial pneumonia, and those symptoms are persistent, that's the time that we really want you to talk to your physician about the possibility of blastomycosis , becauase that's exactly how it presents itself," says Marquis, adding that Wisconsin has seen an increase in cases. "Over the past several years we have seen a total of 428 cases that have been reported to us," she says. "Our concern is about whether or not we're seeing an actual increase in cases, or it's just being better diagnosed."
Damp areas with decaying vegetation seem to be more likely to produce the blastomycosis fungus. Dogs, with their noses constantly in the dirt, are also susceptible to blasto.