FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Wearing Face Masks Causes Fungal Lung Infections

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 17,000 times claims people are checking into emergency rooms for fungal lung infections caused by wearing face masks.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that wearing a face covering will cause a fungal lung infection. Health experts in Florida and Texas have not reported emergency rooms visits for fungal lung infections caused by masks.

Fact Check:

As more states have moved to require the wearing of face coverings in public spaces, social media has become replete with misinformation about them. This particular post claims people have been seeking treatment for fungal lung infections caused by masks in emergency rooms around the country.

“People are starting to enter ER’s with fungal lung infections from wearing masks!!” reads the image’s text. “Take breaks from your masks!!” (RELATED: Did Florida’s Surgeon General Recommend People Stop Wearing Face Masks?)

There is, however, no evidence such a thing is happening. Had wearing face coverings been causing emergency room visits for fungal lung infections, it likely would have been picked up by media outlets, yet none have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also not issued a warning about them causing such infections.

The Daily Caller reached out to hospital and medical associations in Texas and Florida, as well as the Texas Department of State Health Services, and none of them reported a trend in emergency room visits for fungal lung infections caused by face coverings. Texas, which recently instituted a statewide mask mandate, and Florida have both seen a rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Carrie Williams, vice president of communications for the Texas Hospital Association (THA), told the Caller that she had not heard of hospitalizations from wearing masks from THA’s experts. (RELATED: Does The Swab For A COVID-19 Test Take A Sample From The Blood-Brain Barrier?)

“We haven’t heard any reports of people being hospitalized for something like this,” said Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations at the Texas Department of State Health Services, in an email.

“Two of our TMA staff public health experts said they had not heard of this problem from any of our physicians or in any literature they have seen,” Brent Annear, director of media and public relations at the Texas Medical Association, told the Caller in an email. “And I also asked one of our physicians, someone who works in several emergency departments (ERs) in a very large Texas city; she too said ‘absolutely not’ – she’s not seen any such cases of fungal lung infections from wearing masks… nor has she heard of any.”

Amy Alexander, a spokeswoman for the Florida Hospital Association, told the Caller that there “is no evidence that masks increase the risk for developing a fungal infection.”

“There is currently no evidence that masks increase the risk for developing a fungal infection when the mask is changed and/or washed and cleaned when it becomes wet and/or visibly soiled, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations,” she said in an email.

The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings where social distancing cannot be maintained and that “a person removes the face covering once they return home and washes it before using it again.” The World Health Organization issued guidelines that recommend face coverings be “changed if soiled or wet” to prevent microorganisms from growing.

Fact-checkers have previously debunked claims about masks causing fungal pneumonia and low oxygen levels.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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