Ian Pritchard, a 29-year-old man in Michigan, succumbed to death last week from a rare fungal infection called blastomycosis, a disease caused by the fungus Blastomyces that attacks and weakens the respiratory system.

The infection-causing blastomyces typically thrives in moist soil, particularly in areas with decomposing organic material like wood and leaves. It is usually seen in the midwestern, south-central, and southeastern states and is known to be in areas surrounding the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, the Great Lakes, and the Saint Lawrence River.

However, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests an increased occurrence in other regions of the U.S. such as Vermont.

Ian contracted the infection a week before Thanksgiving and succumbed to death on Feb.3. The infection reportedly "ravaged Ian's lungs and left it beyond repair," Ian's family wrote on his GoFundMe page.

"They showed us a picture of his lungs, and they literally looked like Swiss cheese," Ron Pritchard, Ian's father told WoodTV.

Know the symptoms of Blastomycosis:

The signs of Blastomycosis are similar to respiratory infections and include fever, cough, shortness of breath, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, and pain in the chest, rib, or back. Some patients may have skin lesions, including raised bumps, blisters, or ulcers.

In cases with severe infections, the disease can spread from the lungs to other parts of the body, such as the skin, bones joints, and the central nervous system.

Who should get tested?

People who have been to areas with blastomycosis in the last 3 weeks to 3 months and have symptoms of pneumonia and whose antibiotics are not working should get tested for the infection. The healthcare providers use CT scans, chest X-rays, and blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis.


Patients who develop symptoms typically require antifungal treatment. For treating mild and moderate symptoms of the infection, antifungal medications, such as Itraconazole are commonly used. In more severe instances, Amphotericin B is often recommended.

The duration of treatment can vary from six months to one year, depending on the severity of the infection and immunity of the individual.