Fungal Infections; 7 Facts to Know

Dave deBronkart said, “Please, let patients help improve healthcare. Let patients help steer our decisions, strategic and practical. Let patients help define what value in medicine is. Jay Harold wants to enable you to make better health care decisions with the help of good, useable information.

Fungal diseases can cause serious illnesses and death, yet often go undiagnosed because their symptoms look like those of other diseases. For instance, Valley fever is an inhaled fungal disease that is often misdiagnosed as bacterial pneumonia, resulting in the wrong treatment and putting patients at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Concerning facts about fungal disease:

  1. About 46,000 cases of healthcare-associated invasive Candida infection occur each year in the United States.
  2. Candidemia – a type of invasive Candida infection – is one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated bloodstream infections in the United States. Nearly 1 in 3 people with this infection die.
  3. Some types of Candida and Aspergillus infections are becoming harder to treat with the most commonly used antifungal medicines due to increasing antimicrobial resistance.
  4. About 150,000 Valley fever infections occur in the United States each year, yet only about 10,000 cases are diagnosed.
  5. The fungus that causes Valley fever mainly lives in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. California reported 5,372 cases in 2016, the highest annual number ever reported in that state.
  6. Globally, fungal diseases like Cryptococcus infection are a big problem for people with weakened immune systems, particularly those with HIV/AIDS. Often, the people live in lower-income areas where diagnosis and treatment can be challenging.
  7. Worldwide, an estimated 220,000 new cases of cryptococcal meningitis occur each year, resulting in about 180,000 deaths.

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People most commonly affected by serious fungal diseases include those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ or stem cell transplants, people in hospitals, and people taking medicines that weaken the immune system. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to get serious fungal infections in the lungs, blood, and brain.

What you need to know about fungal infections

Fungal infections can range from mild to life-threatening. Some fungal infections are mild skin rashes, but others can be deadly, like fungal pneumonia. Because of this, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to try to avoid serious infection.

Fungal infections can look like bacterial or viral infections. If you’re taking medicine to fight a bacterial or viral infection and you aren’t getting better, ask your doctor about testing you for a fungal infection.

Fungal infections may be more common in certain types of transplants. Some experts think that fungal infections may be most common in small bowel transplant patients, followed by lung, liver, and heart transplant patients.

Where you live (geography) matters. Some disease-causing fungi are more common in certain parts of the world. If you have had an organ transplant and live in or visit these areas, you’re more likely to get these infections than the general population. For more information on travel-related illnesses, please see the CDC Traveler’s Health site.

Fungal Infections; 7 Facts to Know

Your hospital stay matters. After your transplant, you may need remain in the hospital for a long time. While there, you may need procedures that can increase your chance of getting a fungal infection. Please see types of healthcare-associated infections for more information.

Fungal infections can happen any time after your surgery. Fungal infections can occur days, weeks, months, or years after the transplant surgery.

Some types of fungal infections are more common than others in solid organ transplant patients. In the United States, invasive candidiasis10  is most common, followed by aspergillosis and cryptococcosis, but other types of fungal infections are also possible. For lung transplant patients, aspergillosis is most common.

Indoor mold. You may be at higher risk for getting sick from indoor mold. For more information about indoor mold, please visit CDC’s Basic Facts about Mold page11 .

“I dislike the word ‘self-help.’ Self-awareness, yes, but not self-help.”  This quote from Deepak Chopra is one you should take to heart. For you are the person, who is responsible for your health.

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