By Sarah Cosgrove, http://www.hortweek.com/
People with asthma or a weak immune system are advised to wear masks when moving rotting leaf, plant and tree mulch because of the microscopic dust that this dislodges, which can contain Aspergillus fungal spores.
The National Aspergillosis Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, sees about 350 new patients a year with conditions coming from inhaling the spores. Professor of infectious diseases in global health David Denning said numbers are growing, especially among people who take steroids – arthritis sufferers, for example – which suppress their immune systems.
“Most of us are either immune to the fungus or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection,” he added. “But in asthma sufferers it can produce coughing and wheeziness, and in people with weak or damaged immune systems the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition that can cause irreparable and sometime fatal damage to the lungs and sinuses.”
One previously “very fit” professional gardener who had asthma only as a child and went to the gym three times a week became very ill with pulmonary aspergillosis and said she was lucky to have survived. Read more