Solid Science Practical Solutions


Emerging Fungal Diseases in the News

Recent news reports describe the increasing threat of fungal diseases that may become much worse in an environment that is becoming warmer and wetter. Globally, about 1.5 million people die from fungal infections each year, with few working treatments available. In the U.S., the CDC estimates that more than 75,000 people are hospitalized annually for fungal infections and about 8.9 million people seek outpatient care. 


Fungi have existed on Earth for millions of years. Mushrooms, mold, and mildew are all examples of fungi. They live in air, in soil, on plants, in water and even on the human body. If you’ve ever had athlete’s foot, then you are familiar with a fungal infection.


So why is this becoming an issue now? In the past, the human body was very good at fighting off fungi. Our naturally strong immune system coupled with a high body temperature of 98.6°F was able to fend off most fungi. But, as the environment has become warmer, fungi have adapted. Exposure to fungi, including certain types of molds and yeasts, is becoming more common and may pose a serious health threat to infants, older people, and people with compromised immune systems. Taking certain drugs, like antibiotics, can also increase the likelihood of infection.


Jump below to learn what you can do to prevent the risk of exposure, or read on for a list of fungal diseases you should be aware of:



  • Caused by Aspergillius
  • Aspergillius is a very common mold that lives indoors and outdoors.
  • Most people breath in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick.
  • It commonly affects the lungs and may become invasive in immunocompromised individuals.
  • There are approximately 180 species of Aspergillus, but fewer than 40 of them are known to cause infections in humans. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common cause of human Aspergillus infections. Other common species include A. flavus, A. terreus, and A. niger.



  • Caused by Candida albicans and Candida Auris (C. auris)
  • It can affect the heart, central nervous system, eyes, bones and internal organs and can be deadly to people, killing as many as two thirds of those it infects.
  • By the end of 2020 there had been 1,500 cases in the US, in 23 states. CDC has recently warned that C. Auris is spreading rapidly in hospitals and other health care facilities.
  • The New York City area and New Jersey have reported more than 400 cases over the last few years of an emerging fungus infection identified by federal health authorities as "a serious global health threat." That amounts to two thirds of all cases reported in recent years throughout the United States.
  • Unlike most fungi, it is persistent, lingers on surfaces and can spread quickly from one person to another.
  • This is worrisome, because increasingly this fungi is very resistant to many classes of antifungal treatments.



  • Caused by Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii
  • It can cause lung infections and potentially spread to the blood and central nervous system, leading to meningitis.



  • Caused by the fungus Histoplasma caspulatum
  • Found in soil contaminated with bird or bat droppings.
  • Historically found in New Jersey soils.



  • Caused by the fungus Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii
  • AKA Valley Fever and affects arid regions in the southwestern US (not prevalent in the northeast).
  • Mostly affects the respiratory system and causes flu-like symptoms.



  • Blastomycosis is a fungal infection usually acquired by breathing in the spores of the fungi Blastomyces dermatitidis or Blastomyces gilchristii. These fungi can be found in moist soils, particularly in wooded areas and along waterways.
  • Symptoms include cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, and chest pain. The infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the skin or bones, but does not spread from person to person. People who smoke, have lung disease, or have weakened immune systems are more likely to become sick.
  • Increasingly seen in New Jersey.



  • Caused by various species of Dermatophyte fungi
  • AKA Ringworm, this is a superficial fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails.
  • There have been recent outbreaks of Ringworm that do not respond to common treatments.


What can you do to prevent the risk of exposure?


Educate yourself. Increased awareness of fungal diseases reduces delays in diagnosis and treatment.

  • Fungal infections may be mistaken for bacterial or viral infections such as COVID-19, bacterial pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
  • Symptoms that do not resolve when treated with antibiotics and other medications, may be due to fungal infection.


Take steps to keep buildings dry to prevent mold growth in both homes and workplaces.

  • Fungus thrives in wet environments, so building owners should routinely check for any evidence of water intrusion, leaks, and condensation.
  • Have a plan in place to rapidly respond to any water intrusion issue, including having a 24-hour response service available for water mitigation services.


If you are doing heavy-duty cleaning wear appropriate personal protective equipment. Be aware that breathing in dust and soil risks exposure to thousands of mold spores.


Avoid soil dust from activities such as farming, gardening, landscaping and construction. Even walking in fungi-rich environments, such as caves, can lead to exposure.


Garden State Environmental is here to help. We have conducted thousands of successful fungal and microbial projects since 2001. If you are concerned about the potential for fungal (mold) growth in your home or work environment our technical team can calmly and professionally guide you through this often emotional issue. We approach each issue individually by adapting our proven process to the specific situation. Please contact us at 201-652-1119 or visit our website at