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

A warning to pet owners
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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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/19/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Today, we went with board members from the Oneida County Board of Adjustment, Marshfield Clinic representatives and Howard Young representatives to tour the Minocqua site where the clinic wants to build a hospital.

We'll show you the work by crews in Minocqua to upgrade the natural gas distribution system that dates back to the Lyndon Johnson administration.

And after a long off season, archery hunters across the Northwoods can finally get back in their tree stands. We talk with a Northwoods trading post owner about the enthusiasm of bow hunters this year.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - You can find everything from edible berries to garnishes right in your own backyard.

"Master Gardeners of the North" wants to teach you how.

Tonight's class will be on foraging for edibles in the Northwoods.

Even though edibles can be easy to find, volunteer Tom Jerow says you should leave enough behind for wildlife and next year's crop.

" You should really link up with a mentor, someone who knows what they're doing. Someone who can identify the food that you're looking for," says Jerow.

You can find nuts, grapes, and sumac pretty easily this time of year.

The Master Gardeners meet tonight at 6:00 p.m. at the Oneida County Senior Center.

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MADISON - A Wisconsin appeals court has upheld the state's right-to-work law, reversing a Dane County circuit judge's ruling striking it down.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with Governor Scott Walker and rejected the challenge brought by three unions.

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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department has a new high-tech fire extinguisher training device.

It allows users to put out a fire without using an actual fire.

Firefighter Bryson Cruise says this is much easier and safer because the old device could only be taught with a real fire outside.

"The screen is reactive to the laser inside the extinguisher and it simulates the fire with both light and sound," explained Cruise.

The device was a gift from three of Merrill's largest businesses, Church Mutual Insurance Company, Weinbrenner Shoe Company and Park City Credit Union.

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ANTIGO - Parents and community members in Antigo spoke directly the school district Monday night about some of the big changes coming to area schools.

This past spring the Antigo School Board approved of a plan that would shut down three of the six elementary schools in the area. 

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TOMAHAWK - The activities of this year's Fall Ride finished up Sunday.

Therefore, cleaning crews began sweeping through the Sara Park campsite to collect anything left behind Monday.

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MERRILL - Police released the name of a Wausau woman killed in a crash in Lincoln County Friday afternoon.

Deputies tell us 57-year-old Joan Lehman died in the crash near Merrill, which happened at the intersection of County Road Q and Joe Snow Road in the Town of Scott.

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