MELBOURNE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A two-year-old white German Shepherd named Darwin is battling what is commonly known as "swamp cancer." The dog's owner, Efram Goldberg, first noticed a lesion on Darwin's tail back in July, so he took him to a veterinarian for a check up. That's when Darwin was officially diagnosed with pythiosis, a parasitic spore that enters the dog's body through the nose/sinuses, esophagus, or through the skin. Infection then usually settles in the dog's lungs, brain, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract, or skin.
"He's my best friend, and I love him so," said Goldberg. While Darwin's condition has improved since he was first diagnosed, Goldberg says the prognosis is not good, in part, because the infection has spread to his lungs. Goldberg is working closely with UF vets on several experimental treatments. Goldberg says the expenses of the treatments have run into the thousand, and he has set up a GoFundMe account for anyone who would like to help. He also is hoping Darwin's case will raise awareness about the disease.
This infection is caused by direct contact with water that accommodates Pythium insidiosum, a water borne fungal parasite. It is usually swallowed or inhaled by the dog, and from there makes its way to the animal's intestinal tract. Darwin has been receiving treatment at the University of Florida's Small Animal Hospital.
The sooner you take your dog for treatment after the first signs appear, the better the prognosis, and most dogs will need to undergo surgical removal of as much affected tissue as possible.
On the web: https://www.gofundme.com/Darwinsfund