These are the ugliest mushrooms in the world

WHO has published a list of the most dangerous fungal pathogens. Here you can read which pathogenic fungi made the list and why they are so dangerous.

Almost every non-physician is already aware of the danger of resistant bacteria. But the mushroom kingdom has also produced some dangerous and resilient representatives for humans who have yet to receive the attention they deserve. “Song infections have always been a threat, but historically they have been greatly neglected in public awareness and clinical research funding,” says Dr. Neil Stone, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Head of the Fungal Unit at University College London Hospital.

Fungal infections are a problem especially for weakened people. “The public hardly notices the epidemic because the fight against fungi is mainly carried out in hospitals, which does not reduce the threat,” says Dr. stone further.

The most dangerous mushrooms: These are the top 4

To draw attention to the topic, the WHO has now published a list of the 19 most dangerous types of fungi. On the Fungal Priority Pathogen List (FPPL), fungi are classified into three categories: critical priority, high priority and medium priority. The classification is based on the impact on public health and the risk of development of resistance of the respective fungal pathogen. Many of these fungi are opportunistic pathogens – they use infected individuals to spread their poor overall health.

The three priority levels of the Fungal Priority Pathogen List (FPPL). Credit: WHO

These are mushrooms from the highest priority category:

White ears: A well-disguised killer mushroom

White ears is one of the youngest, but no less dangerous representatives on the list. It was only discovered in 2009 and now it can be found on all continents – and it did has already caused a number of hospital outbreaks.

  • Pathogenic yeasts can be invasive candidiasis cause – a life-threatening disease with high mortality among hospitalized patients.
  • It is naturally resistant to most available antifungals, even pan-resistant in some strains. Echinocandin antifungals (anidulafungin, caspofungin, or micafungin) are currently recommended as first-line treatment in adults and children (≥ 2 months).
  • C. ear spread in secret. It is difficult to identify using conventional methods.
  • Spreading C. ear Prevention in the clinic can be complicated: C. ear it is heat resistant and partially resistant to common disinfectants. Important are: isolation of the patient, protective clothing for the staff, disinfection of the skin with chlorhexidine and cleaning of the room and all objects with disinfectants containing chlorine and hydrogen peroxide vapor.

Aspergillus fumigatus: A true cosmopolitan

Mold Aspergillus fumigatus is one of the most widespread creatures of all. It occurs in almost every region of the world, so contact with it is inevitable. This is not a problem in healthy people, but it can be in people with weakened immune systems life-threatening invasion Aspergillosis trigger.

  • Infection occurs by inhalation of spores and mainly causes lung disease. However, the fungus can also attack other areas, such as the brain.
  • DThe term aspergillosis is used for a wide spectrum of infections ranging from allergic reactions, colonization and semi-invasive diseases to acute invasive aspergillosis.
  • Azole-resistant invasive aspergillosis is a life-threatening disease with a very high mortality rate. WHO calls the emerging resistance to Azol disturbing.
  • Risk factors for the development of invasive aspergillosis include hematologic malignancies, chronic lung disease, transplantation, corticosteroid therapy, neutropenia, and chronic liver disease. Invasive aspergillosis in risk groups can be easily prevented by antifungal prophylaxis.

Candida albicans: An old acquaintance

Candida albicans is a yeast fungus that often asymptomatically – as a so-called saprophyte – colonizes the skin and mucous membranes. As an opportunistic pathogen, however, it also triggers mucosal infections or invasive candidiasis.

  • C. albicans is the most common representative of the Candida group and accounts for about 80% of all candidiasis. A life-threatening disease leads among critically ill hospitalized patients too high a death rate.
  • Although suitable antifungal drugs exist, the mortality rate is 20 to 50%.
  • Antifungals and echinocandin azoles are suitable for therapy.
  • Antifungal resistance is still there C. albicans rather unusual. In the last 10 years, however, increased resistance to azoles has been detected, writes the WHO.

Cryptococcus Neoformans: A dangerous earthling

Cryptococcus neoformans is a worldwide pathogenic yeast that occurs in the environment, e.g. B. in soil and in rotting wood, lives. It enters the human body by inhalation and can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

  • As Cryptococcosis a known infectious disease that first affects the lungs, but can also spread to the central nervous system (cryptococcal meningitis) and the blood (cryptococcalemia).
  • Under HIV patients lie mortality rate 41% to 61%.
  • Risk factors for invasion are cryptococcosis HIV infection, iatrogenic immunosuppression, autoimmune disease and decompensated liver cirrhosis.
  • Localized cryptococcosis can be treated with fluconazole. In severe and disseminated cases, amphotericin B is used in combination with flucytosine followed by fluconazole.

Important message, despite “arbitrary inclusion”

Deciding which mushrooms to include and whether to favor them or not is difficult. There will inevitably be disagreements about the assessment, says Jon Cohen, emeritus professor of infectious diseases at Brighton & Sussex Medical School. “Some fungi, such as B. Aspergillus, usually only cause disease in immunocompromised people, such as after HIV/AIDS or organ transplantation. Others, such as B. Coccidioides, can infect otherwise healthy people, but are only found in very limited geographic areas. How best to classify or balance these differences is somewhat arbitrary.”

Ultimately, though, those differences are less important than the fact that this kind of acknowledgment of mushrooms properly brings them out of the shadows, Cohen says. “This will improve diagnostics and, above all, stimulate research. The number of drugs available to treat fungi is much more limited than for bacteria, and fungi also develop resistance to these drugs. WHO should be congratulated on this important initiative.”

You can find the complete list here.

Image source: Drew Hays, splash yourself

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