What is blastomycosis, the fungal infection that killed a Michigan man?
(WXYZ) — In today’s health alert, a Michigan man has died after battling a rare fungal disease. Ian Pritchard contracted blastomycosis, an infection caused by a local fungus. He died a few days before his thirtieth birthday.
This is very sad news, and my deepest condolences to Ian’s family and friends.
Ian Pritchard was a chef in Harbor Springs. He spent 11 weeks fighting the infection, first at Petoskey and then at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Unfortunately, the infection damaged his lungs beyond repair, according to a post on the family’s GoFundMe page.
Now, blastomycosis infection is caused by a fungus called blastomycosis. These fungi live in the environment and are often found in moist soil and decaying organic matter such as wood and rotting leaves. When soil or organic matter is disturbed, tiny spores are released. If these spores are inhaled, they enter the lungs and can turn into yeast. This yeast may remain in the lungs or travel through the blood to places such as the skin, bones, joints, organs, and central nervous system.
As for the tragic outcomes, according to two studies that examined cases of blastomycosis, approximately 8-9% of infected individuals died. However, the overall mortality rate is likely lower because the studies did not include patients with less severe injuries.
The mushroom is found mostly in the Midwestern, South Central, and Southeastern states. They are often found in areas surrounding the Great Lakes.
In general, blastomycosis is not very common. In places where blastomycosis is reported, there are usually only one or two cases per 100,000 people each year. However, there was an outbreak last year at the Bellerud Paper Mill in Escanaba, Michigan, where more than 100 cases and one death were reported.
On the positive side, most people who inhale germs do not get sick. Only about half of those infected show symptoms such as:
- shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Muscle pain or joint pain
- Chest, rib or back pain
Unfortunately for some people – especially those with weakened immune systems – the infection can become serious. There is a treatment, most infected people will need antifungal medications. The course of treatment can last from six months to a year, depending on how severe the infection is and the strength of your immune system.
When it comes to prevention, there is no vaccine. People at risk for severe infection should consider avoiding activities that stir up soil in places where Plasmodium plasmodium is commonly found.
This week on Dr. Nandy’s show
Healthy teeth are linked to the overall health of your body. Unfortunately, dental care is often overlooked. Before you know it, you find yourself in the dentist’s chair in pain. By then, it may be too late to save your teeth, or treatment may cost much more. That’s why Dr. Partha Nandi, MD, spoke with a woman who suffered from gum disease and lost so many of her teeth that she felt embarrassed to smile. In the end, all of her teeth were replaced. Also, two dentists join Dr. Nandy to discuss dental implants and the procedure, along with the importance of diet in preventing tooth decay. Plus, Dr. Nandy’s hygienist shows you how to brush and floss properly. Tune in on Sunday, February 11 at 2:30am **Please note that this is technically early Monday, so be sure to set your DVR if you’re not up late.
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