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Fungal diseases that affect people whose immune system is compromised

Mold poison symptoms

Overview

People with weakened immune systems may develop invasive fungal infections after being exposed to fungi. The weakened immune system cannot combat infections as well, because of conditions such as HIV, cancer, organ transplants, or some drugs.

Frequent fungal infections in individuals with weakened immune systems.

1- Aspergillosis: is a disease caused by a common mould that occurs indoors and outdoors known as aspergillus. People with compromised immune systems or pulmonary disease are more likely to be infected with this fungus. There are different types of aspergillosis, some of which are very severe, like azole-resistant aspergillosis fumigatus, chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, and invasive aspergillosis.

2- C. Auris: is a fungus that is resistant to numerous multiple antifungal medicines widely used to treat candida infections. They are difficult to identify in laboratories and are often poorly identified with respect to standard laboratory methods, and they may be  misidentified which may lead to inappropriate management. For this reason, the CDC has concerns with C. Auris. This fungal infection can cause bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections.


3- Invasive candidiasis: is an infection caused by a type of fungus referred to as Candida. As opposed to Candida infections of the mouth, throat and vagina, which are localized to a part of the body,Invasive candida infections can pass through the blood into the heart, brain, eyes or bones. In the U.S., Candida is one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients, often resulting in lengthy hospital stays and death.

4- Mucormycosis: is a severe and rare fungal infection caused by a group of moulds known as mucus. It lives in soil and decomposing organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles or rotting wood. Individuals become infected with mucormycosis following inhalation of the spores. These forms of fungal infection typically occur in people who have health problems or who take medications that reduce the body’s ability to control germs. Mucormycosis can also spread to the skin once it has penetrated a wound.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the patient, the type of mold, and the part of the body affected, but often include the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sinus symptoms
  • Brown crusts, blisters or ulcers on the skin.

Prevention and therapy

Mold grows where moisture is present, usually within 24 to 48 hours after flooding. Although it cannot be seen, it is often present.

  • Immunocompromised people should not enter moldy buildings or help clean up old ones.
  • If people with compromised immune systems cannot avoid the mouldy building, they should talk to their doctor and consider wearing a N-95 respirator inside the building.This will still not completely protect them from exposure to mold, but could reduce their risk.
  • If there is mould in your patient’s home, someone who is healthy and capable should clean it up and resolve any water issues.
  • Healthy individuals who clean mold or spend time in areas affected by mold should wear full protective clothing, including a N95 respirator, gloves, boots, long pants and long sleeves. An N95 breathing apparatus alone may not fully protect people from mould and disease.


Early treatment may help to prevent death. Treatment includes antifungal drugs and, in some cases, emergency surgical intervention.

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