Everybody in their lifetime suffers from fungal infection at least once. Be it ringworm, athlete’s foot or some other fungal infection, it feels weird that some fungus is growing on our body. The thing is many fungi lives on our body, but they don’t cause any disease but when they change they cause fungal infections. People relate fungal infections to be mild infections and which can be cured in weeks.
But, shockingly, these tiny organisms alike virus and bacteria kills 1.5 million people globally each year. This figure is certainly higher than the people dying from malaria each year, and more than twice the number of women who have breast cancer and around the same number of people dying of tuberculosis or HIV, according to professor Neil Gow, President of Microbiology Society.
There are around 1.5 million species of fungi-tiny microbes present everywhere, and out of all these, only 300 are considered to be fatal. People get fungal infections when they come in contact with a harmful fungus, and their immune system can’t fight the fungus. Most of the time, fungal infections can be treatable, but sometimes they can prove to be threatening.
“Almost nobody has heard of Cryptococcus, Candida, or Aspergillus, but the three of those probably account for more than a million deaths a year,” says Gow. He told that Cryptococcus targets people who have a weak immune system and people who have HIV. It kills around 200-600,000 in Sub Saharan region each year.
These fungi mentioned above and Pneumocystis makes the group of the fatal fungus and causes more than 90% of fungal infections, said Gow.
“Somewhere between 100 to 300 spores of a fungus called Aspergillus get in our lungs every day,” says Gow, “We deal with it perfectly well because our lungs are full of immune cells, which patrol around looking for these spores, and they swallow them and kill them.”
But with people who have weak immune systems can suffer from Aspergillus lung disease and this disease can kill people in 10-14 days of getting the infection, according to David Denning, professor of the University of Manchester. He said, “It is fairly uncommon, but still life-threatening.”
“Prevention is better than a cure,” says Gow. “One of the things about fungi is that they are quite difficult to dislodge once they start to grow.”