A paper mill worker in Michigan recently died after contracting an outbreak of blastomycosis, a fungal infection that could have infected nearly 100 other people, according to a press release from Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties (PHDM). The paper mill has remained closed since mid-April for deep cleaning, after discovering 97 cases of the disease among mill employees, including 21 confirmed and 76 probable cases. Twelve of these workers had to be hospitalized.
An infection caused by the fungus called ‘Blastomyces,’ blastomycosis is found in the Midwest, south-central, and southeastern regions of the United States. Consumers must be cautious when they visit these areas to protect themselves. Blastomyces originates primarily in moist soil and decomposing wood and leaves, meaning those who work in these industries are at a higher risk of exposure than the general public.
Blastomycosis can be acquired if microscopic spores are inhaled, which is why it is a common disease among workers who breathe in dust regularly. It can also be spread between animals or people through needles, bites, or sexual contact. People with weak immune systems and frequent exposure to moist soil have a higher risk of contracting the disease.
The disease is treatable with antifungal medicine, but early diagnosis is essential. Symptoms of Blastomycosis include fever, coughing, chest pain, night sweats, exhaustion, joint pain, and muscular aches. Consumers should take precautions, such as wearing masks and gloves, washing their hands frequently, and avoiding activities involving steaming, turning, or breaking soil. In conclusion, prevention is always better than cure. Stay informed, take precautions, and stay safe!
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