A warning to pet ownersSubmitted: 08/30/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson

ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - If you own a pet, you know they can become another member of the family.

You want to protect them from illnesses just like other members of your family.

But there's one infection here in the Northwoods that's not preventable.

"She just loves being around people. And loves just giving so much. Everybody says she was a good spirit."

Cheryl Lipori remembers her dog, Lehlo as an active, loving companion.

Lehlo loved to run through the field behind her house.

But two weeks ago, Lehlo started limping.

"She started crying about her leg and her back," Lipori explains.

After going to multiple vets, Cheryl took Lehlo to a few vets here, and then to the Fox Valley Animal Referral Center in Appleton.

They diagnosed her with Blastomycosis.

"It's a fungus that lives in the soil. It likes moist soils. Some swamps, riverbeds,[in] those areas it is most prevalent," explains Veterinarian Alison French.

Dr. French did not treat Lehlo but she has treated many dogs and even cats with Blastomycosis.

She says the survival rate in most pets she treats is about 50 percent.

Symptoms can take months to show up.

For Lehlo, it was too late.

"It just got so bad. She couldn't breathe anymore. There was a point when they thought she was going to go into cardiac arrest because she was breathing so heavy," says Lipori.

Lehlo's organs failed and she died less than two weeks after showing any symptoms. Cheryl and her husband spent more than $10,000 dollars trying to save Lehlo (see the link below to help pay for her medical treatments).

"It can present in any form, in any way. Respiratory is the most common but I've seen it everywhere. I've seen it affect eyes. I've seen it affect the brain where they're having seizures and they can't walk. I've seen it affect every organ there is," adds French.

Wisconsin is one of just a few states where the fungus is prevalent.

There is no real way to prevent Blastomycosis.

"Me and my husband, we're still almost in disbelief as to what happened. We keep looking around for her," says Lipori.

Cheryl now worries about her 5-month old German Shepherd, Walter.

She got Walter to keep Lehlo company.

Now she's worried Walter could get Blastomycosis.

"Be very aware of your dog. Only you know your dog's symptoms, pretty much better than anybody, you know. And don't just take one vet's word, you know, look around, ask call, really look at these symptoms," Lipori says.

A warning to other pet owners so they won't have to live through the same nightmare.

It is also important to note that humans can become infected with Blastomycosis.

The largest outbreak of the infection was in Marathon County in 2010.

55 people got it.

Two died.

Related Weblinks:
Help pay for Lehlo's medical bills

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EAGLE RIVER - Many of us already put out the scary decorations and pumpkins for some Halloween spirit.

If you're looking to take it up a notch, dress like a zombie and grab your running shoes this Saturday.

The 2016 Zombie 5K Fun Run starts at 5 p.m. at Three Eagle Trail in Eagle River.

Zombie Fun Run is still in great need of runners.

Registration is $30 for a t-shirt and a spot as either a runner or a zombie.

Run times don't matter for this race; it is just a race for the fun.

Runners will be given flags attached to a belt to wear throughout the race.

Zombies will then hide on the trail and run after the runners to steal their flags.

Runners with flags left at the end of the race are the winners.

"It's something different. Nothing you know that is normal," said Hallow Fest co-chair Susie Erikson.

You must be over 13-years-old to participate.

Feel free to come in full costume and make-up for the race.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday after Hallow Fest.

You can register up until 15 minutes before the race starts on Saturday.

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RHINELANDER - With a little over two weeks before the presidential election, local officials continue to campaign for their pick for President of the United States.

Wisconsin's former Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton visited Rhinelander Saturday to show her support for Hillary Clinton.

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WAUSAU - Enthusiasm, excitement and surprises continue to pack the 2016 election season.

 Republican politicians in Wisconsin still have something to add to this election.  

On Sunday Governor Scott Walker, Senator Ron Johnson and Representative Sean Duffy all stopped by the Wisconsin GOP office. 

They came together to encourage voters to get out and vote early. 

About 30 people came out to hear what the politicians had to say.

"We need to convince people who maybe we don't know where their opinions are in terms of election," said Governor Walker.

 "But we work with them, we live next to them, we go to church with them those are the people we need to reach out [to]."

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Nearby Fire Departments often rely on each other when they need extra man power. 

On Saturday firefighters from around the Northwoods came together as one. 
"It's vital to have that community bond between the fire departments," said Arbor Vitae Fire and Rescue Chief Mike VanMeter.

The bond between local departments led to a rare training opportunity. 

"Being able to share an opportunity like this is vital," said Boulder Junction Fire Department Chief Matthew Reuss. 

A donated house in Boulder Junction was lit on fire so that the fire departments could practice structure training.  

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RHINELANDER - We all have Tylenol and other medicines in our cabinets at home, but what do you do with them when they expire?

Saturday, local officials helped people properly dispose of those unwanted medicines as part of Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

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MINOCQUA - Every year thousands of kids go hungry. 

On Saturday nearly 600 volunteers from the Northwoods decided to help feed some of those children. 

The "Food for Kidz" organization, invited people to Lakeland Union High School, to help package non- perishable goods.

 The packages will be donated worldwide and to nearby food pantries.

Within the past eight years volunteers have packaged one million meals.

 Last year was the first year the organization started donating to local food pantries. 

This year volunteers will give 30,000 meals to the Northwoods community.

"It's just the recurring exuberance of the people that come in and do the packing we have many, repeat people that come year after year," said "Food for Kidz" Co-chairman John Breiten. 

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RICE LAKE - The Merrill football team doesn't feel it got the respect it deserved when WIAA playoff brackets came out last weekend. The Bluejays shared a Great Northern Conference championship.

But they were pinned to a number 8 seed, the lowest in the bracket, and travel to face top-seeded Rice Lake in a Division 3 Level 1 game Friday night.

Recent history doesn't favor Merrill in the playoffs. It has lost six straight playoff openers, dating to 2009.

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