Aspergillus niger is a fungus that can cause diseases in plants, animals and humans. The symptoms of this rare infection in humans depend on the location of the infection. In plants, Aspergillus niger appears as a black mould on the fruit or the plant. It can also be found where there is decaying vegetation. Animals that consume Aspergillus niger can have adverse symptoms and may die.
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Aspergillus in Plants
When peanuts succumb to an Aspergillus infection, young plants will wilt suddenly. Areas affected by the disease will become covered in a dark fungal growth. Most plants that are infected with Aspergillus will die within 30 days of being planted. Other plants, such as onions and tuber crops may develop black discolouration in scarred, open wounds or bruised areas. Black scales or shallow lesions may also develop. It is possible the entire bulb or tuber may shrivel, which can lead to a soft rot. On the tubers, the discolouration may be brown with a tinge of purple.
Apergillus in Animals
The growth of Aspergillus niger and subsequent production of oxalic acid in animal feed has been shown to adversely affect animals. Symptoms include calcium depletion, physiological abnormalities and/or death.
Human Aspergilloma Symptoms
According to Mold Survivor, Aspergillus niger is the third most common Aspergillus species to be associated with human diseases. It has been linked to the formation of a lung “fungal ball.” This ball is created by the growth of Aspergillus niger in the lungs; however it doesn’t invade the lung tissue. Symptoms may exhibit as impaired lung function and wheezing. Additionally, while some people will be asymptomatic; others may experience weight loss, shortness of breath, fever, tiredness, chest discomfort or may be coughing up blood.
Human Otomycosis Symptoms
Otomycosis is an ear infection and Aspergillus niger has been implicated as a causative organism. Symptoms of a fungal ear infection begin with pruritus or itchy ears with an irresistible urge to scratch. Generally, this will progress to a dull pain in the ear and may or may not have drainage. If the ear canal becomes inflamed and fungal debris accumulates there may also be hearing loss or tinnitus symptoms. Other symptoms associated with a fungal ear infection include ear pain or inflammation and impaired hearing.
Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis Symptoms
Invasive pulmonary Aspergillosis is when the infection spreads through the bloodstream to other organs. Symptoms may depend on the organs affected. For example, if Aspergillus progresses to the skin; skin infections or rashes may result. According to the Mayo Clinic, general symptoms of pulmonary Aspergillosis include fever and chills, headache, bloody cough, chest or joint pain, massive bleeding from the lungs and shortness of breath.
If Aspergillus niger invades the sinuses, symptoms may include a stuffy nose, inflammation, headache, facial pain and drainage.
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- Aspergillus Website: Aspergilloma and Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis
- University of Texas Medical Branch: Infections of the Ear: M. Underbrink, MD, J. Vrabec, MD and F.Quinn Jr., MD
- Mold-Survivor: Symptoms of Fungal Exposure (Mycotoxicosis)
- Mayo Clinic: Aspergillosis Symptoms
- Environmental Protection Agency: Aspergillus niger Final Risk Assessment: 1997