Unveiling the Menace: Killer Fungus Infections Surge, Blamed on Global Warming

Killer Fungus Infections Surge
Killer Fungus Infections Surge. Credit | Getty images

United States – It is estimated that fungal infections kill nearly eight million people every year globally and this is blamed on climate change, population surge and antibiotic resistance among others that are reported by WHO and CDC.

Death Toll

In the US, the “Killer Fung” infection which is responsible for 1.7 million deaths worldwide in a year exceeds that of tuberculosis and malaria combined.

A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out to the rising threat posed by infections, resulting from the effects of climate change, population growth, and drug resistance.

Fungal infections extend beyond common ailments like athletes’ foot, encompassing severe tissue infections that demonstrate the wide range of illnesses they can cause.

The presence of airborne pathogens like blastomycosis and cryptococcus, along with the emergence of Candida auris, is leading to significant hospitalizations and illnesses.

Diagnosing lung-related fungal infections can be delayed as they often mimic symptoms of bacterial or viral respiratory diseases, as reported by ABC News.

Real-life Struggles

One such case is that of Allison Karsh, a mother from Arizona, who struggled with undiagnosed symptoms for weeks before being diagnosed with valley fever, caused by the Coccidioides fungus prevalent in the southwestern US deserts.

Despite treatment, Karsh experienced prolonged fatigue, spending up to 18 hours in bed daily, taking months to fully recover.

John Galgiani, MD from the University of Arizona estimate that the reason for one out of every three illnesses resembling pneumonia in the region could be its cause.

In contrast with bacterial and viral infection, there are currently no vaccine against fungus, although scientists have set efforts to make them in the a future.

The WHO’s identification of “fungal priority pathogens” in 2022 marked a significant step in prioritizing neglected diseases and urging research into treatments.

Tom Chiller, from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) ignited the conversation by drawing attention to the fact that fungi need to be more relevant during talks that focus on infectious diseases given that fungi are highly resilient and flexible.

Urgent Call for Action

Besides, there are additional factors contributing to fungal infections such as: an increasing population of elderly with higher levels of obesity, diabetes and inflammatory conditions, and the environmental effects created by global warming.

Scientists see the vaccine development for Valley fever as another important step forward and this will also fight the disease among the species of a dog which has been identified as being more vulnerable to the infection.

While we can be optimistic about the efficiency of such a vaccine now, no one knows how long it could take to create a human vaccine. This demonstrates how continuing research is necessary and the fund has to be allocated considerable sums.

Despite the current focus on other pathogens like viruses, WHO and CDC warn against underestimating the threat posed by fungi, emphasizing the need for investment in testing, treatment, and prevention measures.