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Fungal Illness: Dr. Marinkovich

The following is an excerpt from a paper published by Dr. Vincent Marinkovich, an immunologist from San Pedro, California, who died in 2007 of gall bladder cancer. Dr. Marinkovich was known as Dr. Mold up until his death at the age of 74. This article is titled Fungal Hypersensitivity: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Therapy and represents one of numerous peer-reviewed scientific explanations of the health hazards associated with mold exposure.

There is much about the health effects of fungi that is not understood. Exposure to high ambient fungal spore levels in a water damaged home or building is, more likely than not, a mixed bag. Not only are more than one fungal genus likely to be present but bacteria such as Legionella or Actinomycetes may be present in sufficient quantities to add complexity to the resulting symptoms (Fink, 1984). Endotoxins are frequently found in abundance when Gram negative bacteria abound as when sewage is the source of the water (Rylander, 2002). In addition, insects such as mosquito larvae or other mold-feeding insects (mites) may be contributing to the airborne organic particle burden. Even large rodent populations have been discovered in older, run-down, water damaged homes and buildings. All of these can contribute to the disease patterns seen in patients exposed to "fungi" in water-damaged structures.

Innate and Adaptive Immunity

Fungal exposure itself can produce a confounding array of symptoms as different elements of the body’s defense systems are triggered. Early in the course of exposure, the innate immune system can be activated as endotoxins or fungal elements enter the body tissues. This inflammation can proceed without any involvement of the adaptive immune system with its antibodies and activated T-cells (Kauffman, et al, 2000). However, after a few days or weeks of antigen presentation on an inflamed mucosa, the adaptive system is likely to become involved as antibodies and T-cells specifically reactive to fungal antigens are generated. This will add to the inflammation of the affected tissues. And, finally, fungal elements become directly involved if mycotoxins or other inflammatory triggers are formed that can cause toxic injury to specific organ systems. One need only be reminded of such fungal compounds as alcohol, lysergic acid (LSD), antibiotics, cyclosporin or mushroom toxins to appreciate the ability of such organic molecules to cause symptoms.

Physicians who treat patients with mold related problems are often challenged by the variations in the disease symptoms and the multi-organ involvement that are presumably the result of exposure to environments heavily contaminated with fungi. They may accept the likelihood that fungal exposure is the cause of their patient’s symptoms, but not understand the underlying pathophysiology. Still, an attempt is made to treat the patient, essentially by utilizing various programs that remove the patient from the fungi. Over time, they learn that the clinical patterns seen in such patients are consistent, the diagnosis can be accurately made and the response to therapy is very good.

There are other physicians who deny that fungi as encountered in homes or office-type workspaces are capable of causing illness. These physicians generally are not primary care givers and can dismiss the patient’s complaints because of their apparent complexity without a consequence. They are better designated as theorists who base their negativity on arguments that the lack of sufficient evidence-based proof of a causal relationship of fungal exposure to human disease proves that such a relationship is not possible. They dismiss all case reports (Marinkovich et al., 1975) (Fink et al., 1971), epidemiological studies (Dearborne, 2002) (Etzel et al., 1998) and clinical observations of experienced clinicians as worthless and such patients as malingerers or psychiatrically disturbed (Hardin et al., 2003). They seem to lack the vision to accept the challenge of the possibility that injury to multiple organ systems may result from exposure to large amounts of fungal derived materials (such as spores and/or mycotoxins) in a home or office environment. They are wrong and they can do a great deal of harm. First in denying the patient’s symptoms, and secondly by blocking disability requests from such patients injured by exposure to fungi in their workplaces. They are guilty of using poor scientific logic because it is close minded. Such thinking has no place in a medical setting where there are sick patients who need help.

Quotes

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

Dedication