Delta and Menominee counties in Michigan have confirmed 93 confirmed or probable cases of blastomycosis. local health centerand they are believed to be associated with a paper mill in the town of Escanaba.
blastomycosis According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fungus is caused by Blastomyces, a fungus that lives in the environment, especially moist soils and decomposition products such as wood and leaves. It is found primarily in the Midwest and South, especially around the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the Great Lakes.
States where blastomycosis is a reportable condition have only one or two cases per 100,000 people each year, according to the CDC. One analysis found that from 1990 to 2010, he had 1,216 deaths related to the disease.
People can breathe in these microscopic fungal spores, and most of them don’t make them sick, but some people develop symptoms like fever and cough three weeks to three months later, the CDC says. says. Other symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, and muscle and joint pain, according to Public Health Delta & Menomiee County. Rarely, the infection spreads outside the lungs to other places such as the skin, bones, brain, and spinal cord.
Blastomycosis does not spread from person to person. It is treated with antifungal medications that must be taken for periods ranging from six months to a year, depending on the severity of the disease and the person’s overall health.
Nineteen of the cases associated with the Escanaba Billerud Paper Mill were confirmed by culture or microscopy, and the remaining 74 probably had symptoms of blastomycosis, meaning that antigen or antibody tests were positive.
“Although the source of the infection has not been identified, we take this matter very seriously and follow the recommendations from health and government officials to protect the health and safety of our employees, contractors and visitors. We are taking a number of proactive steps to address this issue,” said Brian Peterson, vice president of Billerud Escanaba Mill Operations, in a statement from the Department of Health.
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