MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Department of Health says the state is seeing more cases than expected this year involving blastomycosis, a rare fungal infection, likely due to favorable environmental conditions.

The infection is caused by breathing in microscopic fungal spores. Though the CDC says most people don’t become ill after breathing in the spores, those who do develop flu-like symptoms. People who participate in outdoor activities near wooded areas are at a higher risk of getting sick, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe blastomycosis.

Health officials say Minnesota veterinarians are also reporting more cases than expected in animals.

According to the Department of Health, there is no known way to prevent the infection, though impacts can be minimized with early detection and treatment, which includes taking prescription antifungal medication. The fatality rate for the infection in 2018 was 14%.

Symptoms include fever, cough, night sweats, muscle aches or joint pain, weight loss, chest pain and fatigue. They usually appear between three weeks and three months after someone breathes in spores. The infection can also spread from the lungs to skin, bones and joints and the central nervous system.

For more information on blastomycosis, visit the Department of Health website.

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