Daniel Lemire's blog

, 3 min read

Are fungi making us sick?

2 thoughts on “Are fungi making us sick?”

  1. Carles Farré says:

    Well, this is a provocative question for Paul Stamets.

  2. To be clear, it seems I have existed with a fungus infection most of my life. When I was 14 years old, I caught a cold that turned into something much worse. I only recovered when the doctor finally prescribed strong antibiotics.

    This same pattern repeated about every four years. I caught a routine respiratory bug. It got much, much worse. Once given strong antibiotics, I recovered.

    Decades back I asked my then-doctor why this pattern kept repeating. He could not be bothered. Nor could the next.

    Several years back, went to my new doctor very sick. I had lost a lot of weight (not of purpose). He prescribed strong antibiotics, and I recovered. I asked about the past pattern, and he started doing tests.

    I got very, very lucky. He saw something subtle slightly amiss in the results. That lead to more tests. And then visits to a specialist. The specialist ultimately had to take a sample of the tissue in my lungs. (Not a fun procedure, I can report.) The sample was sent off to a lab, with results expected in a few weeks. A few days later, the lab called back. I most definitely had fungus in my lungs.

    That lead to yet another specialist, who prescribed strong doses of Fluconazole. The side effects are quite nasty. The “cure” rate is very uncertain. I eventually stopped taken the medication. Take this as an informed judgement.

    Thing is, I ran past the edge of existing science.

    The guidance for this sort of fungus (when called “valley fever”) is that it resolves in a year. My doctors were all properly careful to only refer to the infection as recent. A few years after, my primary doctor repeated tests to verify the fungus is still present.

    There is no guidance for doctors in this case.

    Though there is no present known effective cure, knowing the cause is an enormous relief.

    But … yes. Fungus can make us sick.