, Volume 161, Issue 5, pp 275-282

First online:

Geographic Distribution of Human Blastomycosis Cases in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Association with Urban Watersheds

  • Dennis J. BaumgardnerAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical SchoolCenter for Urban Population Health, and Aurora Health CareDepartment of Family Medicine, UW/Aurora Email author 
  • , Erica M. KnavelAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical School
  • , Dale SteberAffiliated withCenter for Urban Population Health
  • , Geoffrey R. SwainAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical SchoolCenter for Urban Population HealthCity of Milwaukee Health Department

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Most studies of endemic blastomycosis and outbreaks have involved rural areas. Case homesites in rural Northern Wisconsin have been associated with waterways and sand soils. ARC-GIS was used to geocode addresses and to observe geographic features of homesites from 45 State-mandated reports of human blastomycosis in urban Milwaukee County, Southeastern Wisconsin 2000–2004. Each case property was directly observed, and houses and duplexes (N = 38) were compared with 151 same-street control homesites. Categorical data was analyzed using a chi-square or Fisher’s exact test; continuous variables by Kruskal–Wallis test. One case cluster was seen on Milwaukee’s North side where the estimated annual incidence was 2.8/100,000 compared to 0.96/100,000 for the entire county. Cases were less common in the most urbanized watersheds (0.49/100,000/yr) versus Lake Michigan shores (0.85) versus remaining three open watersheds (1.4) [P<0.01]. Case homesites averaged 1067 m to waterways and none were on sand soils. (Comparison is made to a Northern Wisconsin community where case homesites averaged 354 m to waterways, 24/25 were on sand soils and annual incidence was 74/100,000.) No unique features of case homesites were identified in Milwaukee County. In this urban area of Wisconsin, relatively low incidence rates may be explained, in part, by lower density of inland waterways and lack of sand soils, however, blastomycosis cases appear to be associated with open watersheds.


Blastomyces dermatitidis blastomycosis geographic information systems lung infections mycoses