Tag Archives: fungal meningitis

The Red pea pod fungus that became a deadly meningitis causal agent

As the 15 fungal scientists at the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) work thirteen hours a day, seven days a week (see 1) on how to detect, understand and curtail this unusual meningitis, the larger community is wondering what could have prevented this meningitis. There are two fungi causing this recent deadly meningitis (see 2, 3, 4.). They are Aspergillus and Exserohilum. While Aspergillus has caused meningitis in the past, Exserohilum is the surprising enemy. While there are a few scientists already working on fungal meningitis (see 3, 5), there are none who had worked on Exserohilum for meningitis, but perhaps as a sinusitis causal agent or a plant pathogen. 

The current emphasis of the scientists working around the clock is to figure out how to detect the fungus that is causing the meningitis.  Since one of them has never caused meningitis before, there are no confirmed, FDA approved detection tests for the current crisis. This is one of the topmost and most urgent priorities of the CDC scientists. “The scale is much bigger than we have previously worked with”, says Dr. Ana Lituintseva, CDC Fungal Research Laboratory Team Leader (see 6). While most patients have been reported from among those who received spinal pain corticosteroid injections, there has been at least one report of meningitis from a patient who received a joint pain corticosteroid injection (see 2). Fortunately, this fungal infection is not contagious. Fungal medication is very toxic. It is not recommended to take the fungal medication as a precautionary measure, because fungi and humans are very similar. When you attempt to kill the fungus, you may harm the human. So, the advice is to listen to the doctor. In a following article we will explain how fungi are similar to humans.

The Red Pea Pod Fungus that causes an unusual meningitis

Why is one of the fungi causing this infection called “The Red pea pod”? Because it looks like a red pea pod. For a photo of what it looks like when it was observed causing an infection in plants click on 4; compare with this  photo (see 6) of what it looks like when it causes infection in humans as meningitis. Then, decide for yourself and begin to ask the question, how different are we humans from the common plants around us? The answer is important for the survival of our civilization as we know it today and begin to create an alternate civilization in space, Mars and the universe beyond us.

Related Articles
1. At CDC, scientists fight to halt a deadly fungus .
2.Fungal meningitis stats continue to rise.
3. What are the two fungi causing the meningitis outbreak in USA?
4. Exserohilum and Aspergillus: what turned them deadly?
5. Advances against Aspergillosus
6. CDC says one new death from meningitis


Filed under Health, Pain, Research, Science

What are the fungi that are causing the meningitis outbreak in USA?

Aspergillus fumigatus

75 clinics in 23 states in USA are monitoring their patients who received a spinal steroid injection for pain. They may be infected with a rare meningitis caused by a fungus. The name of the steroid is methylprednisolone acetate. The Calgary Herald’s Malcolm Ritter  discusses the fact that there were (on October 8, 2012), at least two fungi linked to this unusual meningitis outbreak and they are Aspergillus and Exserohilum. Therapy is limited by the fact that very few anti-fungals penetrate the blood-brain barrier and researchers are working on more effective antifungals (see scientists below).

The causal fungi were contaminating the vials of the steroid produced and packed only by the New England Compounding Center in Massachussetts. Dr.John Jernigan, an epideomologist at the CDC, is leading the charge against these fungi. He has been quoted by various news sources stressing the fact that unlike bacterial meningitis, this is a very rare type of meningitis with little clinical research (PBS – a video recording, NY Times, Wall Street Journal). According to Huffington Post’s Amanda Chen, patients in Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have developed Meningitis. Dr. William Schaffner, President of the National Foundation of Infectious Disease said that the causal fungus is commonly found all around us, normally does not make people sick, but does cause an illness in some immunocompromised people like those with AIDS, and is not contagious.

Meningitis may be caused by fungi, bacteria or virus. To get this disease from a tainted vial is highly unusual. Needless to say, this steroid has been recalled immediately. By October 7, 2012 there were 18 confirmed deaths from fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroid back pain spinal injections says the local Detroit CBS news. Only those patients who sought relief for back pain with a steroid spinal injection July to September 2012 should be concerned.  Senator Richard Blumenthal has called for extending the FDA’s monitoring authority, if necessary (Wall Street Journal)

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) USA, assures that fungal meningitis is not contagious. You may click here to reach the CDC site to learn about typical Fungal Meningitis. It talks about:
TREATMENT – usually IV medication and usually patients are immunocompromised already.

The Tennessean has done such a wonderful job explaining this disease that you should probably click here to learn more about their explanations on:
What is meningitis and how many types are there?
What is Aspergillus Meningitis?
How is it diagnosed?
Should I go to the doctor for Aspergillus Meningitis?
Should I pursue other pain management options until this has been cleared?

Do email these scientists and encourage them to continue their research. Send them dolloar bills if you must, but mostly tell them you appreciate their contribution.
ASPERGILLUS FUMIGATUS – involved in the tainted steroid outbreak

CRYPTOCOCCUS NEOFORMANS – not involved in this 2012 outbreak

EXSEROHILUM – involved in the tainted steroid outbreak (Old research click on 1 & 2; and 3 for Six newer citations)

Associate Professor William Steinbach
The source of the featured photo in this article

The Duke University’s mycology group studies several fungi that cause diseases of humans including Aspergillus. One of their researchers in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases is Associate Professor William Steinbach. He is interested specifically in Aspergillus fumigatus because it is the leading killer of immunocompromised patients with cancer or following transplantation. You may write to him at: 427 Jones Bldg
Research Drive, Durham, N.C. 27710 or email him at bill.steinbach@duke.edu.

Texas A&M University has biologists who have recently discovered that ZOLOFT, a medication already FDA approved for and most commonly prescribed for depression, and can cross the blood-brain barrier, can pack quite the punch against Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that may cause meningitis. The two chief scientists who are working to discover anti-fungals against C. neoformans are Professor Mathew Sachs and Assistant Professor Xiaorong Lin and published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial agents and Chemotherapy, where they discuss how there are a limited number of anti-fungals today. Also, the fact that antifungals available today do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier thus complicating anti-fungal therapy. Their research so far is only in the lab but is promising. Sertraline or ZOLOFT acs by not allowing the fungi to synthesize proteins for their own use, thus destroying them. Address correspondence to Xiaorong Lin, xlin@bio.tamu.edu, or Matthew S. Sachs, msachs@bio.tamu.edu or you may write at Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA.

Professor Mathew Sachs

Assistant Professor Xiarong Lin

A meningitis causing fungus, Cryptococcus

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