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Blastomycosis: Almost 100 Confirmed or Probable Cases of Rare Fungal Infection Linked to Michigan Paper Mill, Health Officials Say
Blastomycosis or “Blasto” is a rare but serious fungal infection that affects humans and animals. Recently, there have been almost 100 confirmed or probable cases linked to a Michigan paper mill. Health officials are urging people to take precautions to avoid exposure to this contagious illness.
What is Blastomycosis?
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. The fungus is found in soil and decaying organic matter. The infection is contracted by inhaling fungal spores present in the air or dust. It can also be contracted by contact with soil, seeds or plants infected with the fungus. Blastomycosis primarily affects the lungs, but it can spread to other parts of the body such as the skin, bones and other organs.
Symptoms of Blastomycosis
The symptoms of blastomycosis can range from mild to severe. Some people may experience no symptoms, while others may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. In severe cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the skin, bones and other organs. The skin may develop sores and rashes that resemble those of other skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. In some cases, the infection can lead to long-term health problems.
Blastomycosis and the Michigan Paper Mill
According to health officials, almost 100 confirmed or probable cases of blastomycosis have been linked to the paper mill in Michigan. The fungus was identified in samples collected from the site, which has been a subject of investigation since the first cases were reported last year. The health officials are urging people who work or live near the paper mill to be mindful of the potential risk of exposure to the fungus.
What is being done to prevent the spread of Blastomycosis?
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is working closely with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the cases and control the spread of the disease. The health officials are advising people who live or work near the paper mill to take precautions such as:
– Wearing a mask or respirator when working in areas with high levels of dust or dirt
– Washing hands regularly with soap and water
– Using hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible
– Avoiding activities that create dust or dirt
– Covering skin with protective clothing when working in areas with soil or decaying vegetation.
– Seeking medical attention if any symptoms appear
Blastomycosis is a serious fungal infection that can affect both humans and animals. The recent outbreak of the disease in Michigan highlights the importance of taking precautions to prevent its spread. Although the illness can be severe, it is treatable if detected early. People who live or work in areas with high levels of dust or dirt should take precautions to avoid exposure to the fungus. If you suspect that you have been exposed to the fungus or are experiencing symptoms of blastomycosis, seek medical attention immediately.