Yesterday, Laurel Herold wrote about the fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 29 people to date while sickening 377 others.

Today, Dr. Craig Bowron, a Twin Cities physician and contributor to MinnPost takes an editorial approach we thought would interest Health Talk readers.

In his article “Fungal meningitis: How a wimpy, ubiquitous black mold turned to the dark side,” Bowran profiles Exserohilus rostratum, the black mold which made its way from the reportedly-unsanitary environment of the New England Compounding Center (NECC) into steroid injection compounds bound for customers across the country with disastrous results.

According to Bowran, up until this point human infections traced to black mold have been fairly rare or unconcerning.  “Although Exserohilus is a ubiquitous mold, found commonly in soils and on plants, it doesn’t find humans to be particularly appetizing or easily boarded, and so human infections are rare,” he writes.

But if that’s true, how has the fungus wreaked havoc on the American populace?

To find out, Bowran talked to University of Minnesota microbiologist Kirsten Nielsen, Ph.D.  Here’s what she told him:

“Because the primary source of exposure to fungi is through the lungs, most of our immune defenses are poised for action at the pulmonary level,” Nielsen explained. “If the fungus does manage to move through the lungs and deeper into the body, at least we’ve already been alerted to their presence, and the body is able to escalate its immune response to the invader.”

But according to Neilsen, providing a fungal infection a back-door entry into the central nervous system (CNS) can cause profound problems for the human body.  The CNS isn’t adequately prepared to immediately mount a meaningful immune system response. In the resulting war with an invading fungus, the CNS is completely outmatched.

To read more, click over to MinnPost and read the full piece by Dr. Bowran. It’s a fascinating article and worth the read.

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