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Hello all, I have been lurking on this forum for a while looking for help for my 8 year old female GSD, Kasha. I thought I would tell her story in the hope that it will help others and to see if others struggling with this terrible disease.

In February, Kasha was an unusually healthy (like no health problems, ever, not even mild HD), very active older dog. She loved her toys and was always up for a car ride or walk. By the end of the month, my wife and I started to notice the slightest bit of slowing. It was barely noticeable and intermittent. She would go weeks being her crazy nutty self and then have a day where she almost looked a little depressed. Next day she would be herself again.

As the weeks went on, this pattern continued. She would be completely normal and then have an off day, but slowly we noticed she seemed to have more off days. We wondered if she was depressed as we had some minor changes in lifestyle. One day in March, we noticed that she was really down and had a slightly enlarged lymph node on her neck. We took her to the Vet. The Vet noted that she had a fever. She took x-rays and ordered blood work, she also aspirated the node. X-rays were completely normal, healthy for a dog her age and breed. Blood work came back largely normal with only a slightly elevated white blood cells. Vet sent us home with antibiotics.

Kasha was okay for a few days and we hoped the antibiotics had helped. By the end of the week she had became very ill again. She could barely get in and out of the car. My wife and I were very concerned. We took her back to the Vet and the Vet noticed some pain in her hindquarters. Stumped, our Vet sent us to a larger clinic with ultrasound equipment.

Kasha stayed at the clinic for several days. They re-did her blood work, tested urine, stool, and went over her with the ultrasound. Nothing. Negative for everything. Finally, our Vet, a very kind and able Vet decided to test for Aspirgillus. She had only seen one other case, only saying that she had been "burned" by that case. My wife and I fretted and hit the net looking up Aspirgillus.

For those who do not know, Aspirgillus is a rare fungal infection. It comes in two forms, standard Aspirgillus and Disseminated Aspirgillus. It is found in the air and is thought to come from rotting vegetation (my wife and I live in Louisiana, land of rotting vegetation). Typically, standard Aspirgillus is easier to diagnose and is highlighted by a severe nasal infection visible on the dog's snout. Disseminated Aspigillus is much much harder to diagnose and much deadlier. It is the same fungal infection, but spreads from the respiratory system to other systems throughout the body. It is fatal in more than 90% of cases, and has claimed a few dogs on this site. We found out that GSDs are uniquely susceptible to this disease. My wife and I were distraught.

The test came back with confusing results, she was partially positive for Aspirgillus, but below the normal cut-off. This may be due to, as the Vet said, Aspirgillus' tendency to "hide." The Vet decided that as it is the only positive dx, to begin treatment. She immediately went on anti-fungal medication (Itraconozole), at a cost of nearly 300 dollars a week. The Vet told us that the medication could not wipe out the infection, just slow or halt its growth. Meanwhile, Kasha continued to decline. She wouldn't eat and my wife and I had to really encourage her to drink. Knowing what others have been through and the course of the disease, we began to think about quality of life issues.

That was almost 2 months ago. Kasha spent days where she would only get up to use the restroom and would barely drink, and my wife and I cried and struggled with what to do next. I was bitter and really missed our little "punk" who would chase squirrels in the yard and whine like crazy when we she got to go to the dog park. My outlook changed when she would have good days, when she would want to go on a slow walk. About a month ago, she picked up a toy for the first time in forever.

Yesterday and today, she is low again. Running a fever and not eating much. However, this comes on the heels of nearly a week of 80% Kasha. We spent the week with family and she felt good enough to play in the house and harass the cats. I am happy for what she can do, and even if she is slower, she is still the extremely intelligent, curious, and sweet dog that she always has been.

Anyway, I write this in the hopes that it might help others dealing with this disease. The reality is most dogs with Aspirgillus do not get better, going down hill fast even with aggressive treatment. Kasha is far from out of the woods but she is responding. My wife and I continue to hope for the best.

Some words of advice. Prevention is extremely difficult as the fungus is in the air, however, some homeopathic stuff can be helpful in warding off fungal infections. Coconut oil, olive leaf, and others may help. If your dog is displaying some of these symptoms, take them to the Vet and ask the Vet about Aspirgillus. They will check everything else and may want to do more invasive tests or surgeries prior to testing as it is so rare and almost exclusive to GSDs. If the normal blood work and X rays come back negative, make sure they consider this diagnosis. If not, maybe seek a second opinion. We were extremely lucky to have good Vets willing to seek out help (our local Vet had no experience with Aspirgillus and referred us to another).

My sympathies to anyone else dealing with this disease, and to those with healthy GSDs, watch out for Aspirgillus.
 

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So sorry for Kasha's illness, and thank you for sharing her story. I wish for her that she will have many, many more good days than bad.
 

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Thank you for sharing Kasha's story. I have no doubt that this post will one day help another family in a similar situation.

Wishing Kasha all the best! She is very fortunate to have such a loving family to care for her!
 

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Thanks for sharing, your story has me in tears, and I hope only for the best outcome for Kasha and you.

Sending many hugs and good wishes!
 

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So sorry to read about Kasha's illness, thank you so much for sharing her story. Sending my best wishes to you and Kasha, I hope and pray everything turns out well for both of you!!!
 

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Thank you for sharing your pup's story.
Frieda (in the avatar) had nasal aspergillosis. Initially the vets thought she had nasal cancer, but when her nose turned pink inside, they did the testing and sure enough she had the fungal infection. It's very rare here, but it happens. We successfully treated it, but it came back about a year later. We were fortunate that we were able to keep it at bay for 3 years even though we could not get rid of it the second time.
When it became clear that we were not going to get rid of the aspergillus the second time, we went to compounded itraconazole as it cost $200/month vs. $500-1000/month locally. We also used terbinafine, which acted as a booster to the itra. Terbinafine is under $10/month and really did help. Frieda passed away from cancer in October though the one vet said it could be that the aspergillus migrated to her pancreas and caused the swollen lymph nodes. Irregardless, she wouldn't eat and she was on medicine so there was nothing else we could do.
It's an awful disease that is frequently misdiagnosed. I do feed my dogs coconut oil now as well.
I hope your Kasha does well.
 

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I feel so bad for you. Fungal infections are so very hard to identify and treat! I hope you are able to get a handle on it.
 

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This is such a terrible disease, I'm so sorry :(

I would certainly combine treatment with some alternative treatments, though they would be experimental.

For fighting the fungal, many recommend coconut oil, and the herbal Pau D'arco is an oustanding anti-fungal. If you decide to try the anti-fungal, start slow and note response. I had a fungal infection in my throat once from an allergy nasal spray and was on anti-fungals several times, but the response to that herbal was dramatic.

I would also talk with Derek over at MyHerbs.net They have a yeast herbal that I haven't tried, but when my GSD was on Cumanda, he responded very well, and I supect it was from a yeast component.

I used in Max a compounded Itraconazole from a compounding pharmacy - much less expensive, but thought to be not quite as effective. We never had aa diagnosi for Max, but there was a fungal component to it.
 

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I am sorry for your difficult times, and hope that Kasha will beat the odds and make a full recovery. Thank you for taking the time to share her story.
 

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I'm also so sorry....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all for the kind words.

Barnyard, I am sorry for your loss. I read your story when Kasha was first diagnosed and couldn't post then as it was too sad. Frieda was a pretty girl. Thank you for the information. We will ask the vet about Terbinafine.

Lisa T, thank you for the information. My wife knew about Pau D'arco but could not find find it online. We have never heard of cumanda. We'll check out myherbs.

I'll post updates on Kasha as we go through this process. She has been pretty down the last few days, but has an appointment with vet on Thursday. She is eating and drinking and as long as she is doing that, we are okay for the moment.
 

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News from the vet is discouraging. Lesions were noted in her hips. New symptoms. We brought her home and she is comfortable. We'll take her back tomorrow and have the lesions biopsied. In my research, I came across these articles:

http://130.88.242.202/medicine/Aspe...aspergillus-web/articlesoverflow/18647155.pdf

Successful Long-Term Use of Itraconazole for the Treatment of Aspergillus Diskospondylitis in a Dog

They are not hopeful, but they might be useful for others down the road. We are going to share them with the vet tomorrow in case she is unfamiliar with them. Sad times.
 

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Passing on

We put Kasha in her final sleep yesterday. She fought to the end, and even with near full paralysis in her hind legs, she walked with dignity into the Vet's office. On her final day, we drove her to the lake and dog park. A husky and lab were playing and she managed a few friendly woofs. We miss her dearly and she is remembered as the intelligent, beautiful, and sweet family member we knew and loved. Thank you for the kind words and for anyone else dealing with or suspecting Aspergillus, please feel free to message me with any questions or needs. Attached is her picture with her lifelong buddy Raleigh.
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss :hugs: I was really hoping for better news :(
 

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I am so very very sorry:(
 
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