According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 1.5 million different species of fungi on Earth, but only about 300 of those are known to make people sick. Fungi live in the outdoor environment as well as on many indoor surfaces. The CDC has posted a list of 10 questions to help people learn their chances of getting a fungal infection. They include:
1. Where do you live and travel? Fungi that can cause serious infections are more common in some parts of the world.
2. What types of activities are you doing? Harmful fungi can be found in air, dust and soil.
3. Do you have a dog or cat? People can get ringworm, which is caused by a fungus, from their pets.
4. Have you recently taken antibiotics? Antibiotics can make people more likely to get certain fungal infections.
5. Are you taking any medications that affect your immune system? Medications used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may weaken one’s immune system and increase their chance of getting a fungal infection.
6. Are you living with HIV/AIDS? People living with HIV/AIDS may be more likely to get fungal infections.
7. Will you be hospitalized? In the United States, one of the most common bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients is caused by a fungus known as Candida.
8. Have you recently had a transplant? A person who has recently had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant has a greater chance of developing a fungal infection while their immune system is weakened.
9. Are you receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatments? Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, weakens the immune system and may increase the chance a person will get a fungal infection.
10. Do you have symptoms of pneumonia that are not getting better with antibiotics? Fungal infections, especially lung infections like Valley fever, histoplasmosis and aspergillosis, can have similar symptoms as bacterial infections. However, antibiotics don’t work for fungal infections.
These are just a few things to know about fungal infections and your environment.