1. Canberra mum hospitalised 160 times thought it was pregnancy-related.
After four years of unexplained illnesses, a Canberra family has finally found what’s been making them so sick: toxic mould.
Melissa Harrison first began to feel ill when she was pregnant with her twin girls, Kenley and Ivy, in 2014, Nine News reports.
She was feeling fatigued and vomiting constantly – but dismissed these as pregnancy symptoms. However, the now-28-year-old only got worse after her daughters were born.
Melissa’s symptoms then included hair loss, headaches, breathing difficulties, rashes and chronic fatigue. Later she experienced pneumonia and lung infections, all while battling chronic asthma.
“There have been times that I thought I was just going to die. Sometimes I couldn’t get any answers or any help. It made me feel like I was going insane,” she told Nine reporter Emily McPherson.
Her son Travis was also often sick with with sinus and chest infections, nose bleeds and asthma.
Then one day late last year Melissa cleaned mould growing on windows in her home and started to feel sick – and it all seemed to make sense.
The mum realised she had fallen ill each and every time she tried to clean her home of the mould it was infested with – and if she ever spent some nights away from home she would start to feel better.
“The mould is everywhere. It’s on every window sill, all through the wood. It’s on the walls and where paint is peeling around vents. It’s also been found in the lino in the kitchen. There is white furry stuff that has come out,” Melissa explained.
The Canberra mum isn’t the only person to be struck down by toxic black mould for an extended period before realising it was to blame.
In June A Current Affair spoke to a NSW mother whose 11-year-old daughter was sick for several months with an unexplained pain illness before doctors finally traced it back to the mould in her classroom.
However, while Mariah and her family were able to move and escape the mould, Melissa is not. The mum is living in public housing, and despite her pleas to the Department of Housing for a transfer to a new home, has only been offered cleanings and mould inspections.
Their response speaks of a lack of understanding around the side effects of toxic mould.
It’s why Federal MP Lucy Wicks successfully pushed for a national inquiry into biotoxin-related illnesses – which will look at the effects of the mould, in the hopes that doctors and the public could better understand the symptoms and side effects.
The cut off date for submissions is today.