How can athlete’s foot, ringworm, and UTI yeast infection kill so many people a year? These are only the common fungal infections that most of us have heard about or experienced, since they affect up to 2 billion folks worldwide, but there are also many opportunistic fungal infections that can be fatal to those with immune deficiency. It is true that fungi kill millions of people each year.
How Many Millions
No organization is capable of keeping official stats. The figure most bandied about is 1.5 million, give or take 0.1 or so million. However, experts can agree that fungi kill as many people worldwide as TB or HIV, more people than malaria, and about twice as many as breast cancer.
It is estimated that the top four deadly species of fungus, Cryptococcus, Candida, Aspergillus, and Pneumocystis, account for 90% of the deaths. Most of us have never heard of them, and if we did, we shook them off as something more pesky than deadly.
Who Are at Risk
None of the deadly species of fungus are rare. Candida resides in the body of many humans and animals. At any given place on Earth, you might find hundreds of strains of Aspergillus in the air at one time. We come across these supposedly deadly fungi all the time. They are harmless if your immune system is up to snuff.
It is when your immune system is weakened, temporarily or permanently, that fungi can cause deadly infection at critical parts of the body where they happen to reach. Nearly half of the deaths from fungal infection involved people with AIDS/HIV, especially if they had no access to proper treatment.
The others who are at risk include diabetics, asthma sufferers, leukemia patients, cancer patients after chemotherapy, and those who take immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplants.
In conclusion, knowing that fungi kill millions of people each year, we should all double our effort to prevent or treat fungal infections.