Deadly Fungi are Affecting Americans

Each passing year is accompanied with an increase in the hospitalization cases involving deadly fungi. Unfortunately, the death toll for fungal infections is steadily climbing, in part because of their adaptation to warmer temperatures which have allowed them to survive in the human body. The public are poorly informed about the deadly fungal infections that are becoming more commonplace for Americans.

The WHO has released a list of all the dangerous fungi in an attempt to convince policymakers to deal with the most important fungal pathogens. Since doctors lack the tools to locate fungal pathogens, they are repeatedly going undiagnosed. Misdiagnoses have led to an undercounted death toll of 7,000 that further fuels the public’s lack of awareness towards fungi dangers.

Felipe Santiago-Tirado, a fungal infection expert at Notre Dame stated, “The general public doesn’t appreciate how serious fungal infections can be.”

A recent study revealed that out of the 150,000 known fungal species, only 200 are infectious to people. People with a compromised immune system are at a greater risk of a clinical infection due to their body being unable to fight off infections. Infections are distinct as they are simply spread by the environment as opposed to individual contact with others.

The overabundant use of anti-biotics has allowed for deadly fungi to cause further harm. The effects of antibiotics include the killing of bacteria in the body including ones that support the body’s immune system. Fungal Pathogens are easily able to take advantage of the void created.

Because of the lack of attention towards the issue, little funding is provided towards finding viable treatments. However, despite the grim situation, the WHO has been able to raise awareness by releasing a list of the deadliest fungal infections. The list represents a first step in creating more urgency in the issue.

Dr. Justin Beardsley, the leader of the WHO Fungal Priority Pathogens List’s study group stated “Fungi are the ‘forgotten’ infectious disease. They cause devastating illnesses but have been neglected so long that we barely understand the size of the problem.”

Pathogen ranking was based on the amount of research done and the health impact of the fungus. In turn more Americans will be able to be further educated about the potential risk of fungi.

A study estimates that a majority of fungal species have little to no effect on humans and only 200 fungi affect people with weakened immune systems. Infectious fungi inhabit the world around us, with humans on a daily basis being capable of inhaling a multitude of spores each day. 

Groups at direct risk of suffering from fungal related infecitons are severely ill patients with cancer, HIV, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease, and post-primary TB infections.

Troubles are only doubled as many infectious fungi are growing stronger resistance to common antifungal drugs due to their common use in the environment. Azole, the most common drug, is used in the protection of crops from fungi.

The danger of fungal infections is a constantly evolving situation, but with more awareness being called to the issue, more people will be able to stay safe in the future.