Having fungal disease is perceived as a taboo but sometimes when we talk about fungal infection or disease, we only know skin rashes like athlete’s foot and bad odor.
But it’s not just that.
Fungal diseases are just like other deadly contagious diseases like bird flu and measles. It can cause outbreaks and can be lethal especially to those who have a weak immune system like cancer and HIV patients.
Mild fungal diseases are mostly superficial
Tineas Pedis or Athlete’s Foot is one of the most common superficial fungal infection right now. Latest research shows that approximately one-third of the adult population has experienced having athlete’s foot in their entire life.
Athlete’s Foot is caused by a microscopic fungus that proliferates fast on the skin surface or inside the organs. As you age the risk escalates mostly to men, although this tendency can affect to no particular group.
Athlete’s foot can be triggered when it is blocked by socks particularly nylon and sports shoes especially when you are in hot and sultry surroundings. Chronic diseases like diabetes can also trigger the said infection.
This disease is very contagious and can be spread through direct or indirect interaction.
In the market, you can buy different kinds of ointment to treat the infected area but it will take a while to totally remove it as it is very difficult to kill the fungus.
You can choose from branded ointments but nowadays. Natural cosmetics like Fungalor can are also available and is as effective as those branded ones.
If not treated immediately, Tineas pedis might spread to your toenails. Eventually, it can cause discoloration and crumbliness on the nails.
Another common fungal disease is Ringworm. Ringworms can be found in your body, groin or scalp. Ringworms are very contagious as well. It can be transmitted through close contact or by touching contaminated items like towels and clothes.
Athlete’s foot can cause ringworms as well, that is why it is very important to go to your doctor and ask for a proper prescription before it spreads to your other parts of the body or to other people.
Life-threatening fungal diseases and outbreaks
The examples from above are just some treatable fungus diseases, however, you might look at these life-threatening fungal infection that causes outbreaks in other countries.
Caused by a fungus called Histoplasma, Histoplasmosis is common among AIDS patients. There various symptoms of Histoplasmosis but the most affected area is the lungs. The fungus Histoplasma is commonly found on bird or bat droppings.
A person can get histoplasmosis after breathing the fungal spores from the air. But, not all can get sick immediately, only those who have infections already like a cough or fever. Most people who have this disease can get better on their own if the immune system is strong enough. But for those who have a vulnerable condition like AIDS patients, it can be life-threatening.
Histoplasmosis outbreaks are common in North, Central and South America, but lately, the Dominican Republic suffers the same outbreak as well.
This happens when a group of young men had a cough, fever, and headache after clearing several tons of bat droppings from an old tunnel. There are 35 tunnel workers and most of them got sick and hospitalized but unfortunately, 3 died due to lack of fungal diagnostic testing and antifungal medications.
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that can affect both humans and animals, in most cases dogs. This disease is also tagged with many names such North American blastomycosis and Gilchrist’s disease, a tribute to Thomas Casper Gilchrist who first identified the disease in 1894.
Blastomycosis manifests in different ways:
- Lung infection
- Flu-like illness with fever, joint pains, muscle pains headache and nonproductive cough but will get resolve just a number of days.
- Acute illness that can be seen as bacterial pneumonia
- Mimics tuberculosis or lung cancer with symptoms of fever, night sweats, cough and weight loss
- 40% immunocompromised patients are also principally diagnosed with brain abscess, epidural abscess or meningitis.
If you notice, this fungal disease can present itself differently to patients but in order to diagnose properly, the patients must undergo tissue biopsy in order to see if they have characteristic broad-based budding organisms in sputum or tissue.
One known outbreak of Blastomycosis happened in Wisconsin where in a total number of 55 patients and two of them died. According to the results, the infected patients are mostly Asians that belongs to the Hmong family. However, there is no evidence that the cause of the outbreak is a result of outdoor activities in comparison to the previous outbreaks.
The Wisconsin outbreak is the largest outbreak of Blastomycosis to date.
Coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever)
The coccidioidomycosis is another fungal infection that pestered two prisons in California. It is caused by fungus coccidioides that can be found in the soil of the United States and some parts of Mexico.
An individual can acquire Valley ever through inhalation of the fungal spores. Just like histoplasmosis, valley fever can easily affect those people who have a low immune system although this infection cannot be transmitted from person to person. But it is important to note that the environment is one of the focal sources of this infection.
Its symptoms are similar to common flu-like fever, cold, chills, fatigue, headache and joint pains. But the riskiest type of valley fever is the “Disseminated coccidioidomycosis” wherein can spread to the vital organs of the body like brain, heart, lungs, bones, and skin.
If this happens, it is very likely to give you more symptoms like skin sores, swollen joints, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and even confusion and irritability.
If you think nobody will die because of athlete’s foot, think again. In fact, according to Professor Neil Gow, from the University of Aberdeen, approximately more than 1 million people die each year because of fungal disease compared to breast cancer and malaria.
There are scientists and researchers who are now focusing on studying such infections after many outbreaks happening globally.
But let us not wait for that scientist to come up with medicine that can cure fungal infection right away.
The best defense you can have to prevent yourself from acquiring fungal disease is to have a strong immune system, just like any other disease preventing tips.