Rare water fungus slowly taking life beloved dog in Putnam County

A rare water fungus is slowly taking the life of a beloved dog in Putnam County.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — A rare water fungus is slowly taking the life of a beloved dog in Putnam County.

The dog’s owner, Mary Lou Beyreis, tells ActionNewsJax it’s like living with someone with incurable cancer.

Up until a couple of months ago, Beyreis’ white German shepherd, Chetek, spent his days swimming in the lake water right in his backyard in Interlachen.

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“Chetek was wading through it. He did it several times and I saw him and I would say nasty things because I knew I had to wash it off of him, but we didn’t expect it to be dangerous.”

Unfortunately, Chetek will never be able to go into that water again.


His days are now filled with daily doses of medication after contracting a rare fungal infection called pythiosis.

Dr. Bethany Sabatino, Chetek’s veterinarian, says he contracted it while swimming and drinking the lake water.

“It comes from an alga infection so ology are similar to fungus but they are sort of water fungus and it does live in bodies of water that are not free flowing, so typically swamp water or lake water.”

And unfortunately, according to Sabatino, it's often incurable if it makes it to the gastrointestinal track.

“It’s like watching a family member die. He’s only 3 1/2 years old,” says Beyreis. Sabatino tells ActionNewsJax there’s no way to know by looking if the water has the deadly fungus.

“If we had known what the water held, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation and I wouldn't have thousands of dollars in vet bills and watching a beautiful dog die.”

Sabatino tells us she’s already diagnosed five dogs in the past eight months with pythiosis.

She also says humans can get it too, but it’s not as common.

Adding that when people get pythiosis they typically get the skin form, which is treatable.

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