A Wisconsin woman’s death from an unusual fungus left her loving family reeling.
Now, the family of Sonya Cruz from Ketnosha, Wisconsin, is warning others about blastomyces- a rare fungus that when disturbed releases spores into the air that can cause severe illness and death.
The fungus can be found in soil, especially in moist and wooded areas.
“My life. They took my life away from me. I’m not saying the hospital or whoever. Whatever this is, took my wife,” John Cruz, Sonya’s husband, told Fox 6.
“Whatever this is, took my wife.”
Prior to Cruz’s wife contracting the deadly disease, he had never heard of it.
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“I can walk out here and swallow a bullet, not literally a bullet, but a bullet of that,” he said. “I think this is something that needs to be shared around the world.”
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), Wisconsin reported the highest number of cases of blastomyces in the U.S.- 2.1 cases per 100,000 residents.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, the state had 1,142 cases – roughly 116 each year between 2011 and 2020.
“It’s probably more common than we think,” said Dr. Bruce Klein of the University of Wisconsin Medical School.
“It’s probably more common than we think.”
The CDC said that the rare fungus is also found in other Midwestern, south-central, and southeastern states.
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“That’s probably only a fraction of the true occurrence of infection, because we know that at least half of the cases can have mild or asymptomatic illness,” Klein said.
According to the CDC, deaths from blastomyces are rare with just 1,200 dead between 1990 and 2010.
Sonya’s daughter, Shatrice Staten, said that she hopes that no one has to go through what her family’s is going through following her mother’s unexpected death.
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“It just sucks. I had to watch my mom take her last breath. It really does,” Staten said. “I don’t want anyone else to feel like what me and my dad going through.”