Michigan man dies from rare fungal infection

A 29-year-old Michigan man died Feb. 3 after a severe blastomycosis infection, according to CBS News. The infections are caused by the fungus called Blastomyces.

Ian Pritchard began experiencing pain in the prostate area around Thanksgiving, his family told the news outlet. He was initially diagnosed with prostatitis, but physicians later found problems with his lungs and determined he had a blastomycosis infection. Mr. Pritchard required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for weeks before his death. 

The fungus that causes blastomycosis is found in soil and decaying wood. When soil is disturbed where the Blastomyces fungus lives, microscopic pores are released in the air. Most people who breathe in the spores do not get sick, though it can cause severe infection in care cases, according to the CDC. 

The fungus is thought to be endemic in the Midwest, South Central states and the Southeast, but recent findings from the CDC suggest it is gaining prevalence in the Northeast. Based on data reported by a select number of dates, the CDC estimates the yearly incidence rates are less than or equal to around 2 cases per 100,000 population. Prior analyses have shown between 8% and 9% of people with the infection died. 

Symptoms of blastomycosis are similar to those of other infections and include coughing, fever and chest pain, though many people do not develop symptoms. They can appear between several weeks and three months after a person breathes in fungal spores. 

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