Fungal Pneumonia Is Rare But Very Dangerous 

Fungal pneumonia is not as common as the viral and bacterial form and was considered to be quite rare in the United Sates.

The key word here is “was”.

Because of the involvement of fungi, it was thought to be only a problem for emerging countries in Central and South America.

However, in the last 10 years, it has literally exploded in the United States.

In 1995 for example, there were less than 1,000 cases of this very dangerous form of pneumonia, but it has been climbing every year since.

Fungal Pneumonia Is Exploding

In 2016 is estimated that there were at least 30,000 cases of it, but that is not the scary part of fungal pneumonia; it is the number of cases that go unreported.

It was also believed that the majority of cases reported were with people with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS or HIV.

However, that has also changed in the last few years as the risk group has become a lot bigger.

Here are some of the most troubling aspects with this infection.

  • It is also known as “Valley Fever”
  • It is estimated that over 150,000 cases are misdiagnosed
  • 75% of those effected will be “sick” for at least 2 full weeks
  • 40% of those affected will have to be hospitalized

While this very dangerous infection is considered to only be a threat in the southwestern part of the United States and Northern Mexico, this is also now changing.

There are also certain fungi that are very dangerous in the Mississippi River valley as well as the Ohio River Valley.

More Frightening Facts

Here are some more frightening aspects of fungal pneumonia

  • There are over 1.5 million different types of fungi
  • Over 300 of them can make us sick
  • It can be extremely dangerous
  • It can very costly to treat

This form of this vicious and potentially deadly disease is also very dangerous to all of us past the age of 55 for one simple reason; our immune system.

In fact, one of the reasons it is growing so rapidly in the Southwestern United States is that lot of retires are moving there.

Once we get older and our immune system begins to slow down, this can be a very dangerous combination.

The most common form of this beast, Valley Fever, is caused by a fungi referred to as “Coccidioides”

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It Is Now Widespread

This fungus is becoming very wide spread not only if the Southwestern US, it is also spreading in Northern Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

While fungal pneumonia is not contagious, there are some other very troubling aspects it.

  • We get it by simply inhaling the fungal spores
  • The fungal spores are microscopic and you will have no idea they are there
  • Dust storms can and do trigger them
  • Major rain events can trigger them
  • Earthquakes, especially small ones, can trigger them

The early symptoms are very similar to the flu and not quite as severe of other forms of pneumonia, at first.

That is really the key word with this condition; “at first”

The symptoms include a slight fever, a developing cough, headaches, as well as joint and muscle pains.

However, because it has been misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed for such a long period of time, the symptoms can and do become much more severe.

This is the major reason once it develops into full blown fungal pneumonia, it can and often does last for at least two weeks if not longer.

It is also the reason why over 40% of the people that get it have to be hospitalized.

Is It Genetic Driven?

There is another very challenging aspect with this dangerous condition; it seems to be genetic driven in some cases.

While anyone can get it, the idea that only immune compromised people get it, including our age group, is no longer the case.

Here are the first of the risk groups.

  • Anyone over 60 years of age living or visiting in the affected areas
  • African Americans as well as Asians
  • Pregnant women in their final months
  • HIV and AID patients

However, this is not the only risk groups as here is the next grouping.

  • Construction workers—very high risk
  • Border agents
  • Prison inmates working outside of prison
  • Military personal in the desert and high desert areas of the Southwest

However, the scary parts of fungal pneumonia are still not over as here are some more facts.

You Do Not Have To Live There

You do not have to live in these areas to develop this very dangerous condition. 

If you are visiting any of the Southwestern states, you may also be at risk.

In the past, the majority of those infected were in Arizona, reported cases are now sky rocking in California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

But there are still more scary facts about this condition, making it totally different than other forms of this beast.

They include the following.

  • The symptoms will not appear until 2-3 weeks after you have been infected
  • If not caught and treated, it can turn into what is called “chronic pneumonia”
  • If it becomes chronic, these symptoms can last for years
  • While quite rare, it can leave our lungs and infect the rest of our body
  • This is referred to a “Meningitis” which is life-threatening

Wow. Take a minute and digest some of this news.

It Could Last for Years

If you live or visit these affected areas and start to develop the symptoms and are in the major risks groups, you need to get medical attention—fast.

In fact, if you even suspect you may have fungal pneumonia, insist that you are tested for it.

Antibiotics in the vast majority of cases have no impact on it at all, and the only real treatment will be with anti-fungal agents.

And remember, this form of this potentially deadly condition has skyrocketed in the last 20 years.

One other very important fact; the CDC is also beginning to tract it.

That alone should tell you all you need to know.

References

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/valley-fever-10-things-cdc-says-you-should-know/

You might like these

  • viral Pneumonia

    Viral pneumonia in most cases comes and goes on its own, but as we get older, this is no longer than case.

  • Mycoplasma Pneumonia

    Mycoplasma pneumonia is not considered to be that dangerous unless you are past the age of 55.

  • Hospital Acquired Pneumonia

    Hospital acquired pneumonia is a very real and growing threat especially as we pass the 60 year old mark.


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