Mycotoxins, or secondary metabolites of microfungi, can cause disease or death in both humans and animals. Some mycotoxins and mycotoxin-derived mycotoxins have been used as growth stimulants, antibiotics, or other drugs. Others have also been identified as chemical warfare agents. Here’s a review of the top ones that are associated with human or veterinary diseases, such as aflatoxin and citrinin.

Some mycoses are just annoying, such as athletes’ feet, while others can be life-threatening, like invasive aspergillosis. There are two types of mycoses: primary pathogens, such as Coccidioides immitis or Histoplasma capsuleatum, and opportunistic, which can include Aspergillus fumigatus or Candida albicans. People with healthy immune systems are affected by primary pathogens. Opportunistic pathogens are those that take advantage of immunocompromised or debilitated hosts to cause illness. Opportunistic fungi are responsible for most human mycoses. Both primary and opportunistic fungal diseases are complicated. Medical mycologists spent a lot of time researching the mechanisms that make them different from other species. While some infections are localized and others become systemic, there is no one right answer. Mycoses often enter through the pulmonary system, although direct skin contact can be effective.

It is not known how many people are affected by mycoses or mycotoxicoses. Although mycoses and mycotoxicoses are thought to affect fewer people than those who have been infected with viral, protozoan or bacterial infections, they pose a significant international problem. Opportunistic pathogens can cause mycoses in the developing world. Usually, these diseases affect patients with compromised immune systems. In contrast, mycotoxicoses are much more prevalent in less developed countries. Mycoses and mycotoxicoses share one thing in common: neither type of illness can be transmitted from person to person.

Inhaling spores from the environment or unusual growth of a species of commensal plant that is normally found on the skin and gastrointestinal tracts can lead to mycoses. In the presence of immunosuppressant, antibacterial, or chemotherapeutic drugs, human immunodeficiency viruses infection, intra-dwelling catheters, and other factors, these commensal species can become pathogenic.

Mycotoxicosis is a result of eating toxic foods. Inhaling spore-borne toxic toxins and skin contact with mold-infested substrates are important exposure sources. There are no effective treatments to mycotoxin-related exposure. Fink-Gremmels, however, described some methods for veterinarian management. Some evidence suggests that certain Lactobacillus strains can bind mycotoxins. Oltipraz was originally developed to treat Schistosomiasis. It has now been studied in the Chinese population exposed to aflatoxin.

Mycotoxin exposure tends to be more common in areas of the globe where food storage and handling practices are poor, malnutrition is common and regulations to protect vulnerable populations. Even in countries with developed economies, mycotoxin exposure can be dangerous for certain sub-groups. For example, in the United States Hispanics consume more corn products than the rest of us, while inner-city residents are more inclined to live near moldy buildings.

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