In Boynton Beach, Florida, a three-year-old German shepherd has been battling a rare and deadly disease commonly known as “swamp cancer” or more medically referred to as Pythiosis Disease, reports Cbs12News.
Anthony Lasala and his German shepherd Garner have been together since the puppy was just eight-weeks-old. Always a healthy and playful pooch, the dog loved to swim in a pond in the family’s neighborhood. At times Garner would jump in three times a day. When Anthony noticed what he thought was a hot spot on Garner’s paw, he treated it, but the rash wouldn’t heal.
And so to the vet Garner went, and a blood test revealed the dog suffered from Pythiosis. Although the infection is rare, the parasitic spore exists in ponds and lakes where the water may have become stagnant. According to Dr. Justin Shmalberg, the disease is difficult to treat and early detection could mean the difference between life and death. “German shepherds are a breed we see a lot of Pythium, and we don’t know why,” Dr. Shmalberg told Florida Today last year describing a similar case.
Garner had to have his leg amputated, and after 100 vet visits, five surgeries and nearly $180,000 in vet bills, Anthony’s beloved pal is finally “swamp cancer” free.
According to PetMd, the infection can settle into a dog’s lungs, brain, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract or skin. Usually a lesion, much as Anthony described as seen on Garner’s leg will develop. Signs of the disease usually appear in the fall of early winter months in the southeastern United States; there have been reports, however of the organism being present as far west as the central valley of California.
Anthony hopes sharing Garner’s plight will help other dogs and cats. The deadly disease is also known to affect horses and cattle. (There are also rare cases of humans infected by Pythium insidiosum.)
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(Photo via Anthony Lasala)