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Warning: Rare Disease Could Leave Dogs Blind

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A warning has been issued for Chicago dog owners about a rare disease that could leave their pet blind.

As WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports, incidents of the fungal infection known blastomycosis are not common in Chicago. But there have been occasional cases.

Veterinarians say the disease more often found in Indiana and Southern Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports.

But veterinarian Dr. Katie Baldwin tells the newspaper she suspects there have been more cases in the Chicago area in recent years, although there is no solid statistical evidence.

Vets tell the Tribune the disease is not contagious, but if left untreated, permanent blindness and death can result.

Early symptoms include fever, breathing trouble, and loss of appetite.

The fungus grows in moist soil and in areas around water, especially during periods of extended warmth, the Tribune explains. Spores are released into the air that can be inhaled by dogs or enter open wounds.

Treatment involves administering a strong anti-fungal medication.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports


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