The loss a Port Alberni family suffered after their dog contracted cryptococcus while playing at Qualicum Beach is raising awareness among pet owners Island wide.
The deadly fungus was first identified here in 1999 and affects both animals and people and while a lot of cases have come out of the East coast of Vancouver Island, experts are urging people to keep enjoying the outdoors but be educated about the symptoms to watch for.
It’s hard to tell who’s more excited to be hitting Lantzville’s beach, Kimberly Andrews or her dogs.
“Love is not even a word that describes how I feel about my dogs. No they are my best friends. They are my companions,” says Andrews.
So the Lantzville woman isn’t letting heightened fears over the possibility of them contracting cryptococcus keep them all inside.
“Absolutely get your dogs out there but keep yourself informed,” says the owner of Dogs on the Run, a business that takes dogs out running in the Nanaimo region.
Sunday, CHEK News shared the story of a Port Alberni family who had to euthanize their dog Azna after she contracted the deadly fungus during a trip to Qualicum Beach,
“It’s out there and if they want to take the chance that’s their choice but at least have the choice,” says Azna’s owner Lorraine Kimola.
Andrews has heard from several other dog owners whose animals have developed it.
“And it’s quite devastating to see,” she says.
Cryptococus first came on the scene in 1999 when it was identified in Rathtrevor Park after several illnesses arose. It’s a spore found in nature that affects people and pets, and has affected parks across the east coast of the Island in recent years.
Veterinarians say quick diagnosis is the key.
“So any sort of sneezing, coughing, any discharge from their nose, coughing up any sort of blood. Issues breathing but then again it can come in so many forms as well,” says Dr. Jamie Wintemute of Island Veterinary Hospital.
But Dr. Wintemute says it is still relatively rare, among animals that come in to her Nanaimo clinic. Though this time of year several vets are dealing with it.
“So it could be that be that seasonally we’re out there doing a lot more with our pets, their noses are in the ground they have an increased chance of inhaling the spores that way,” says Dr. Wintemute.
So Andrews will keep close watch on her pack for symptoms, like she says we always should.
Her business is getting active dogs outdoors, and running so she says she won’t let fear slow them down, just as summer is beginning.