According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold (a type of fungus) that lives indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus. The types of health problems caused by Aspergillus include allergic reactions, lung infections, and infections in other organs.

Aspergillus fumigatus/CDC
Aspergillus fumigatus/CDC

Two stories from opposite places on the planet tell of the potential dangers of this mold:

A woman from Gilbertsville, KY who got breast implants years ago, later suffered a Aspergillus infection that nearly killed her. According to a WPSD 6 report, Paula Blades had a breast augmentation in 1992.

At the time, she was told that they were totally safe and would last me a lifetime. Fast forward years later…here come the health problems.

Chronic sinusitis, a dramatic, unexplained weight loss and a number of hospitalizations. But still a mystery….until an episode on Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me”, which showed a case that resembled what she was experiencing.

After consulting with a plastic surgeon, s he was soon diagnosed with saline biotoxin illness and has an explant.

According to Dr. Susan Kolb, with Plastikos Plastic Surgery Center in Atlanta, “Most doctors have never heard of this disease, so they don’t know anything about it. I think most doctors right now that are internal medicine, neurology, family practice and plastic surgery have patients in their practice that are diagnosed with you know, MS, lupus, other auto-immune diseases and fibromyalgia, that are curable. Curable, if they had explant, anti-fungals, treatment of co-infections.”

Further testing on the implants revealed– “the valve capping mechanism…faulty”, the “filling fluid grossly contaminated” and indication of “aspergilli-related entities,” —mold.

On the other side of the planet in New Zealand, a 44-year-old prisoner, who initially medical personnel thought died from a series of strokes, actually died from a Aspergillus abscess on the brain.

According to the New Zealand Herald,  former gardener at a plant nursery, Boyd Cuttance was was sentenced and imprisoned in November 2011 for several criminal offenses.

Prior to starting his prison sentence, he was suffering from headaches and was treated for sinusitis. According to the report:

In the 48 days after starting his prison sentence, he suffered ills including headaches, neck pain, unconsciousness, dizzy spells and numbness of the lips and a forearm. He was seen by prison nurses and doctors 30 times and the prison’s contracted GP three times. He also was diagnosed with celiac disease.

In a coroners report just published, it revealed that Cuttance’s cause of death was an abscess due to invasive infection with aspergillus.

For more details on this case, read further HERE

How can you prevent aspergillosis?

The CDC says:

It’s difficult to avoid breathing in Aspergillus spores because the fungus is common in the environment. For people who have weakened immune systems, there may be some ways to lower the chances of developing a severe Aspergillus infection.

  • Protect yourself from the environment.  It’s important to note that although these actions are recommended, they haven’t been proven to prevent aspergillosis.
    • Try to avoid areas with a lot of dust like construction or excavation sites. If you can’t avoid these areas, wear an N95 respirator (a type of face mask) while you’re there. Click here for more information about respirators.
    • Avoid activities that involve close contact to soil or dust, such as yard work or gardening. If this isn’t possible,
      • Wear shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when doing outdoor activities such as gardening, yard work, or visiting wooded areas.
      • Wear gloves when handling materials such as soil, moss, or manure.
    • To reduce the chances of developing a skin infection, clean skin injuries well with soap and water, especially if they have been exposed to soil or dust.
  • Antifungal medication. If you are at high risk for developing invasive aspergillosis (for example, if you’ve had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant), your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent aspergillosis. Scientists are still learning about which transplant patients are at highest risk and how to best prevent fungal infections.
  • Testing for early infection. Some high-risk patients may benefit from blood tests to detect invasive aspergillosis. Talk to your doctor to determine if this type of test is right for you.