Ordinary yeasts and moulds are becoming resistant to anti-fungal sprays which are routinely used by famers to treat crops. This means there is no way to treat the drug-resistant germs when they attack people. One such fungus is Aspergillus, which is present in the air we breathe and does not pose a threat to most people.
But it has developed several strains that are resistant to treatment.
For some people, particularly those with weak immune systems, this can lead to to aspergillosis.
The medical condition in which the fungus gets inside the bloodstream can cause damage to the sufferer’s lungs.
Simple everyday tasks like walking up a flight of stairs can become a struggle.
Sandra Hicks, 51, is one of those who contracted the infection which is resistant to the main anti-fungal treatments.
Ms Hicks of Dorset said: “At the moment I’m waiting to hear from my doctors what the next step of treatment will be — I just don’t know.
“Obviously, it’s an alarming situation to be in.”
The pharmacist has little choice but to watch her health slowly go downhill.
Professor David Denning, who heads the National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester, said fungal infections which would not respond to drugs were “almost non-existent in 2003”.
He told the Mail Online: “They now infect about one in five of our patients. We have dozens whose fungal infections we can’t treat.
“They remain very ill and sometimes they die. Last year, we lost 65 patients out of our total group of 500.”
Aspergillum, a mould that rots compost and crops, has been linked to up to 400,000 asthma cases in the UK every year and 3,600 lung infections, according to the Sunday Times.