A rare fungal outbreak prevailed in Michigan and had 100 confirmed or probable cases. The victim who died of the rare disease, seemed to work in the Escabana Paper Mill. 

The local officials stated that Blastomycosis, the fungal infection affected about 100. Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties (PHDM) indicated 21 victims of Blastomycosis were confirmed while 76 are suspected.

Amidst the outbreak, 12 people seemed to be hospitalized while one infected millworker died of Blastomycosis. 

“Everyone at Billerud is deeply saddened by this news,” says Brian Peterson, operations vice president for the Billerud Escanaba Paper Mill. With 900 employees working, the mill announced a temporary shutdown for three weeks. Authorities decided to sanitize the facility and examine the incoming material. 

What Is Blastomycosis?

Blastomycosis is a rare infection caused by a fungus called Blastomyces dermatitidis.  

The fungus exists in the environment, particularly in moist soil and decaying wood and leaves. It is typically found in the Midwest and the South, specifically in the areas surrounding Ohio, the Mississippi River valleys, the Great Lake, and the Saint Lawrence River. 

When people inhale the spores present in the air, the body’s warmth and moisture turn them into yeast which sort of affixes to the lungs and cause life-threatening problems like respiratory syndrome and Pneumonia. 

The majority of the infection occur in The United States and Canada. 

Blastocomysis is commonly observed in the eastern part of the Midwest including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. CDC claims that even if humans breathe in microscopic fungus spores, not all of them get sick. 

The epidemic seemed to be highly unusual as Blastocomysis hardly transmit from person to person, given that it might number of people exposed to the same spores-containing material. Billreud officials say that they have never been exposed to such a dreadful outbreak of this type in the U.S. 

Symptoms of Blastocomysis

Symptoms are widespread,  some develop symptoms including fever, cough, chest pain, and muscle aches.

Additionally, evidence indicates that symptoms might start to show three weeks to three months after inhaling the spores. 

The infection transmits from the lungs to other parts of the body including the brain, bones, joints, and spinal cord within the immunosuppressed. 

Treatment for Blastocomysis

Infected people should be treated with a prescription anti-fungal medication.

Itraconazole, a drug that stops the fungus from growing, can be taken by patients with mild to moderate symptoms. For severe cases, an anti-fungal medication called Amphotericin B  is recommended. Since it has a wide range of side effects it is advisable to consume only if the condition is critical. Depending on the severity of the infection and the immune system of the person the treatment ranges from 6 months to a year. 

Is Blastomycosis Fatal?

Blastomycosis deaths are very uncommon. According to the CDC, there were 1,216 blastomycosis-related deaths between 1990 and 2010.

How to Stay Safe?

Since there is no vaccine available to prevent Blastocomysis, it is impossible to completely expose to the fungus. It is recommended to wear protective equipment. Immunocompromised individuals should avoid activities that involve disrupting soils in these areas.