Man Dies After Inhaling Fungal Spores From Garden Compost
Gardeners should take extra care when handling old bags of compost after a man died from kidney failure after inhaling poisonous fungal spores, doctors have warned.
The 47-year-old welder from Buckinghamshire, who has not been named, died in intensive care a week after being engulfed by “clouds of dust” when he opened bags of rotting plant material that had been left to fester, in a case reported in the Lancet.
Doctors were baffled by his condition until his partner said he had fallen ill after working in the garden. Later tests revealed he had developed acute aspergillosis, a dangerous reaction to Aspergillus fumigatus spores. The fungus, which is commonly found growing on dead leaves, compost piles and decaying vegetation, may trigger a relatively harmless allergic reaction but can cause serious problems if too many spores get into the lungs.
David Waghorn, a doctor at Wycombe hospital in Buckinghamshire and a microbiologist, said the man had been unlucky: “He’d been opening bags of compost and mulch which had been left to rot. The fungus spores had grown in perfect conditions. He was extremely unlucky – there must have been a very large number of spores which he inhaled.”
Doctors initially thought he had developed pneumonia from a bacterial infection but treatment with antibiotics was not successful. Once aspergillosis was confirmed, intravenous antifungal drugs were given by doctors, but the treatment came too late.
Complications Of Fungal Pneumonia
Complications of fungal pneumonia include disease dissemination to other sites and sepsis syndrome and blood vessel invasion, which can lead to hemoptysis, pulmonary infarction, myocardial infarction, cerebral septic emboli, cerebral infarction, or blindness.
Other complications may include the following:
Bronchopleural or tracheoesophageal fistulas
Pericarditis and other rheumatologic symptoms
How Can I Be Exposed To Mold
People are exposed to molds every day, usually by touching or breathingthem. Because molds naturally exist outdoors and indoors, living in a totallymold-free environment is practically impossible. As molds grow, spores can bereleased into the air where they can be easily inhaled. People who inhale largenumbers of spores may get sick. Possible health concerns are an importantreason to prevent mold growth and to clean up molds in indoor environments.
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What Is The Treatment
Its almost impossible to avoid all contact with fungal spores, so treatment for mold in your lungs often consists of taking medications.
Corticosteroids often help open your airways to make coughing easier. You may need to take them when daily or only when your symptoms flare.
You may also be given an antifungal medication such as itraconazole, but its effectiveness is still debated.
In a , researchers found that 97.1 percent of patients with ABPA received a prescription for oral corticosteroids. About 41 percent of patients received a prescription for oral corticosteroids combined with inhaled corticosteroids and antifungal drugs.
Surgery may be needed if mold reaches your heart or other organs.
The people at the highest risk for developing health complications from breathing in mold are:
- people with respiratory issues such as
How Do I Get Rid Of Mold In My House
First, you need to fix the problem thatâs leading to dampness. If you donât, the mold will come back.
For areas bigger than 10 square feet, you may want to call in a pro.
For smaller areas, youâll have to throw out anything thatâs soft or can soak up water, like carpets, drywall, and ceiling tiles.
On hard surfaces, scrub with a stiff brush or cleaning pad along with a general-purpose detergent in hot water. Then rinse with water and let completely dry.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: âIndoor Mold, Toxigenic Fungi, and Stachybotrys chartarum: Infectious Disease Perspective,â âMycotoxins.â
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How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
You should seek a doctors opinion if you are having noticeable symptoms that you think might be pneumonia. Even if it starts off mild, pneumonia can quickly become dangerous in older adults, young children, and people who have an underlying medical condition or are immunocompromisedso if youre in one of those groups in particular, waiting too long can be risky. Another reason to see the doctor promptly: If untreated, bacterial pneumonia can lead to scarring of the lung tissue or spread to other vital organs.
Heres what to expect when you see the doctor.
Ac Temperature Is Too Low
You might like to keep your house a little on the cooler side, but when that chilly air from your HVAC system hits the warmer air in your rooms, it creates a significant temperature differential. This can cause moisture in the air to condense in and around your air vents, as well as on other surfaces in the room.
Most of the time, that moisture will dry out and wont cause an issue. However, if the condensation sticks around for longer than normal, it becomes a breeding ground for mold. However, dont go cranking up your thermostats just yet. Youll need a differential of about 20 degrees for condensation to form.
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What Happens At Your Appointment
Your GP will check for an obvious cause of your symptoms, like a chest infection or asthma.
If they’re not sure what the problem is, they may refer you to a specialist for tests such as:
- X-rays and scans
- a bronchoscopy where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look inside your lungs
Causes Of Damp And Mould
Mould and damp are caused by excess moisture. Moisture in buildings can be caused by leaking pipes, rising damp in basements or ground floors, or rain seeping in because of damage to the roof or around window frames.
A newly built home may be damp if the water used when building it is still drying out for example, in the plaster on the walls. Excess moisture indoors can also be caused by condensation.
If you have mould or damp it’s important to find out why you have excess moisture in your home. When you know what’s causing the damp, you can make sure your home is repaired or take steps to limit the moisture in the air. You may need to get a professional to remove mould for you, but if it’s only a small amount you may be able to remove it yourself.
Page last reviewed: 8 August 2018 Next review due: 8 August 2021
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Mold Inside Air Vent Filters
Because theyre porous, air vent filters serve as excellent, accommodating homes for mold spores to take up residence. If theyre allowed to grow and spread on the surface of your filter, it wont be long before theyre flying through your entire house.
This is why its important to change your air filters regularly. Most manufacturers recommend that you perform this step every 60 to 90 days.
What Are Common Causes Of Mold Growth Inside Air Vents
Weve discussed what mold in your air vents looks like, but where does it come from?
Mold requires two things to grow: moisture and warmth. If your home has poor ventilation or if moisture becomes trapped in your walls and causes condensation, it doesnt take long for mold to form.
There are a few HVAC issues that could lead to these conditions. Lets explore a few of the most common ones.
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Black Mold And Toxicity
When you read about molds, you may definitely want to know about black mold, as it is frequently singled out as the biggest culprit. Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as black mold is a greenish-black mold. It was thought to be the reason behind a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis among infants living in a water-damaged environment in Cleveland, Ohio. However, there is not much research to prove the association between acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants and exposure to molds, specifically stachybotrys chartarum.15 The guidelines from federal organizations suggest that mold growth, regardless of the type, should be controlled in an appropriate manner.16
How You Catch Pneumonia
While anyone can catch pneumonia, some people are more likely to come down with illness when coming into contact with the germs. Like many other illnesses, pneumonia is caught through contact with the bacteria or virus that creates pneumonia.
Coughing and sneezing are the most common ways these germs spread.
Its also possible to catch the illness by touching something like a counter or door handle, sharing cups and utensils, and touching your face without washing your hands first.
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Indoor Environmental Quality: Health Problems Mold
Health problems associated with excessive damp conditions and mold include:
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What Causes Mold Sickness
The toxins in your system from breathing in mold spores add to the total amount of toxicity in your body. We call this the Total Body Burden. When your burden is high, you start experiencing symptoms many which are seemingly unrelated.
For most people, toxins get flushed out from the body when eliminating waste.
For some, the toxic load is so high that its too much for the body to eliminate them all efficiently. For others, they may have poor detoxification processes or they may even recycle or reabsorb these mycotoxins back, as the body tries to eliminate them. Genetics plays a huge role in this difference from person to person
In short, multiple symptoms happen because, as we say in environmental medicine genetics points the gun, and then the environment pulls the trigger.
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Mold Toxicity Is Also An Issue And It Is Considered A Chronic Inflammatory Response
An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes, and Mycobacterium serve as inflammogens! Inflammogens keep your body in a state of inflammation.
How Can Dampness And Mold Problems Be Fixed
- Identify and eliminate the water problem. The most critical step is to identify and eliminate the source of the water that is creating a damp environment. You may need technical assistance from a plumber or contractor to determine what needs to be fixed or changed.
- Determine the extent of the problem. EPA recommends calling for professional help to clean any mold growth that covers more than 10 square feet.3 If you are unable to determine the extent of the problem, contact a professional, who can help you protect your family.
- Remove, clean or discard affected materials. To get rid of mold, wash it off materials that can be effectively cleaned, such as hard surfaces. Use detergent and warm water. Dry the surface completely. If the materials cannot be cleaned or are too damaged to reuse, discard them. Porous materials, like ceiling tiles, likely cannot be cleaned thoroughly and must be discarded.3
- Protect occupants and workers during the cleanup process. At minimum, wear an N-95 mask , disposable gloves and goggles. Workplace cleanup requires that the N-95 mask be professionally fitted.3
If water build up was caused by sewage, floods or other contaminated water, call a professional.
For more information on guidelines for safely cleaning up mold, visit the EPA’s mold clean up site.
Institute of Medicine .Damp Indoor Spaces and Health. National Academies Press. Washington, DC. 2004.
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A What Is Fungal Pneumonia
Fungalpneumonia is a type of lung infection, caused by inhaling spores in a longtime. The spores may be a combination of opportunistic and endemic mold. Aperson might develop it after he or she inhales spores, but the infection canalso develop if spores enter from bloodstreams.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that pneumonia from mold is rare, but not impossible. Hypersensitivity pneumonia is a severe continuation of mold exposure. It happens when the sufferer has a compromised immune system, causing him or her to develop symptoms. Unlike bacterial pneumonia, hypersensitivity pneumonia is hard to treat, because it does not respond to antibiotics.
The death of actress Brittany Murphy and her husband was probably one of the most famous instances of fungal pneumonia. Murphys mother claimed that mold exposure was responsible for the couples death from pneumonia.
Is It Pneumonia Or Covid
Heres something you may be wondering at this point: How do you know if you have pneumonia or COVID? Or both? Or neither, and you actually have, say, the flu? The answer is, its really hard to tellwhich is why if youre having the symptoms discussed in this section, its important to see your doctor so you can get the right diagnosis.
As long as COVID is active, that almost definitely will entail having a COVID test, since the virus can cause symptoms that overlap those of pneumonia, like fever and coughing, as well as actually lead to pneumonia .
Plus, having COVID makes your lungs vulnerable to infection by any number of bacteria that normally wouldnt affect you. In other words, having COVID is a big risk factor for pneumoniaand since we know that COVID is highly contagious and can affect many organ systems other than the lungs, its important to know if youre infected with it so you can be monitored and isolate if needed. Similarly, if you experience pneumonia symptoms during a month when the flu virus is circulating, your doctor will probably recommend a flu test.
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
Unless your doctor determines that you need to be hospitalized , you can probably recover from pneumonia at home with a combination of oral medication, rest, and self-care strategies. If your breathing is labored, your doctor might also prescribe breathing treatments .
In theory, the oral drugs you get for pneumonia should be tailored to the causeantibiotics if its a bacterial infection, and other meds if its viral. But in reality, dont be surprised if the doctor gives you antibiotics even if he or she doesnt know for sure that you have a bacterial infection. The experts we consulted said most doctors prescribe these medicationswhich include amoxicillin, doxycycline, azithromycin, and clarithromycinfor pneumonia across the board just in case, since even if you have viral pneumonia it can be followed by or accompanied by a bacterial infection. And as we mentioned above, often its not clear what the pathogen is, so antibiotics are used to cover the bases.
Cover Your Mouth And Nose
While the preferred method for covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is into a tissue, not everyone can get to tissues in time when the urge to cough or sneeze hits. If you have the urge to cough or sneezeand a tissue isnt availablethe next best thing is to cover your mouth or nose with the inside of your elbow.
Coughing or sneezing into your elbow will decrease the chances of your leaving traces of your infection on door handles, faucets, or anything else you touch.
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D Diagnosing Fungal Pneumonia
Fungalpneumonia is hard to diagnose in its early stages. The early symptoms may mimicregular ailments, such as coughing, fever, shallow breathing, fatigue, appetiteloss, sweating, and chills. Kids may experience nausea and vomiting.
Properdiagnosis usually involves several methods, such as:
- Checking the medical history
- Checking the prognosis ofexisting medical conditions
- Conducting radiology and clinicaltests
- Using nonmolecular fungal samples
- Taking samples from respiratorytracts
When the pneumonia symptoms happen, patients and doctors can suggest checking for the presence of fungal infections. Detailed testing can help for faster diagnosis and quicker treatments.
What Are The Symptoms Of Aspergillosis
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of aspergillosis.
Pulmonary aspergillosis might not cause any symptoms, especially in the early stages. If the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Coughing, sometimes accompanied by mucus or blood.
- Bloody cough or massive bleeding from the lungs.
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis may cause:
- Coughing accompanied by mucus or blood.
- Wheezing or worsening of asthma.
- Increased mucus or sputum secretions.
- Inability to tolerate exercise or asthma brought on by exercise.
Many patients with asthma or cystic fibrosis already experience respiratory symptoms similar to those caused by an allergic reaction, so it may be difficult to detect ABPA in these situations. Sometimes, a worsening of symptoms such as coughing and wheezing is the only sign that the person is experiencing an allergic reaction.
If the allergic reaction recurs over time, and the lungs become inflamed repeatedly, damage to the lungs and central airways can occur. Recurrent allergic reactions may cause scarring of lung tissue and widening of the central airways, a condition known as bronchiectasis.
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Prevention Is Key To Keeping Lungs Safe From Mold
The best thing to do to prevent any dangerous effects of mold including mold growing in lungs is to prevent mold from growing in your home at all times. D youo think your home has mold and you are worried about the safety of yourself or your family? If so, a professional mold remediation company can help to determine the presence of mold. And, to perform proper and safe mold removal so that you and your family are no longer at risk for mold-related health issues.
Looking for a professional, licensed, bonded, and insured mold removal company in South Florida? Call A Plus Mold Remediation Inc. today at 561-247-3506 for your free quote!