Family dog loses lung after contracting fungus from digging in dirt

Michael Lee said he and his wife took Mocha to three different animal hospitals before he was diagnosed with blastomycosis. (Source: WIFR)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 11:46 AM HST
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GARDEN PRAIRIE, Ill. (WIFR/Gray News) – At only 3 years old, a black Lab named Mocha is in the fight of his life after he was diagnosed with an unexpected fungal infection in his lung.

Michael Lee said his dog Mocha was showing symptoms of a cold and wasn’t his normal, energetic self. As weeks passed, Mocha wasn’t improving.

“He was a big, happy, 105-pound healthy... happy black Lab; star of the family, running around. You know, playing with everyone,” Lee said.

Lee said he and his wife took Mocha to three different animal hospitals before he was diagnosed with blastomycosis.

“And to go downhill in just a few weeks to the point where we thought we might have to put him down, it’s just unbelievable. We had never heard of this before,” Lee said.

Blastomycosis is a fungal infection in the lungs from breathing in spores from the soil. Once tests came back positive that Mocha had blastomycosis, the family was given two options: remove the lung or put him down.

“He had the will to live, we could see it in his eyes,” Lee said.

To save Mocha, the Lees had to take a personal loan to cover the lung removal surgery – with a cost that took them by surprise.

“I was expecting a couple of hundred dollars to get him back to normal, just to get some antibiotics and get him back to normal,” Lee said. “But at the end of the day, it was north of $11,000 to get everything done.”

He said that even though paying everything off will be a struggle, they know it was the right decision.

“If I could go back in time, I would have probably had them do the blasto-test right away,” he said.

The family set up a GoFundMe account to cover medical expenses for Mocha.

“We plan to educate as many people about this fungus as possible so it can limit the chances of it happening to anyone else,” Lee wrote on the GoFundMe page.